There are more than 10 professors affiliated with the Democratic Party for every faculty member who is a registered Republican, according to a new study.
Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College, reviewed the party affiliations of 8,688 tenure-track, Ph.D.-holding professors at 51 of the top 60 liberal arts colleges listed in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 rankings.
Nearly 60 percent of all faculty members were registered as either a Republican or a Democrat, and of that sample, there were 10.4 times as many Democrats as Republicans.
“The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic,” Mr. Langbert wrote in an article published by the National Association of Scholars. “Indeed, faculty political affiliations at 39 percent of the colleges in my sample are Republican free — having zero Republicans.”
There are several shortcomings associated with political uniformity in higher education, Mr. Langbert continued, including biased research and diminished academic credibility.
Studies show that academic psychologists are more likely to study the attitudes and behaviors of conservatives than liberals. They are also more likely to view conservative beliefs as deviant.
Sociologists prefer not to work with fundamentalists, evangelicals, National Rifle Association members and Republicans, according to another study cited by Mr. Langbert. Another study found that sociological research is not taken seriously unless it presupposes that there are no differences between the sexes.
There are a few colleges that stood out in Mr. Langbert’s sample.
Two military colleges, West Point and the Naval Academy, had relatively balanced Democrat-to-Republican ratios, 1.3 to 1 and 2.3 to 1, respectively. When the military colleges were excluded from the sample, the overall imbalance ballooned to 12.7 Democratic professors for every Republican.
Thomas Aquinas College, a private Roman Catholic college in Santa Paula, California, had no professors who are registered Democrats.
Claremont McKenna College, Kenyon College and St. John’s College in Annapolis also had more intellectually diverse faculties than their peers.
Two schools, Bryn Mawr College and Soka University of America, had no faculty members who are registered Republican.
Wellesley College, Williams College and Swarthmore College had more than 100 professors affiliated with the Democratic Party for every registered Republican.
The most politically balanced field was engineering with 1.6 Democrats for every Republican. Computer science, economics, mathematics and the natural sciences tended to have ratios below 10 to 1.
The disciplines with the least intellectual diversity were communications and anthropology, both of which had no registered Republicans. Fields with Democrat-to-Republican ratios greater than 40 to 1 were art, sociology, English and religion.
When broken down by gender, there were nearly 21 female Democrats for every female Republican and more than 7 male Democrats for every male Republican.
Mr. Langbert limited his search to the 12 states that host at least one top-60 college and make voter registration information public.
Any attempt to reform higher education is a “very tall order,” he wrote, if current levels of political homogeneity are not changed.
“The solution to viewpoint homogeneity may lie in establishing new colleges from the ground up, rather than in reforming existing ones,” Mr. Langbert wrote.
• Bradford Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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