Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Faculty Moderation

The New York Times reported in the dead of summer on the increasing moderation of professors. This seems like an excellent back-to-school story to me.

On a liberal-moderate-conservative scale, professors as a whole are more liberal than conservative, with a strong body of self-described moderates. Within disciplines, social scientists are the most liberal, with just over half reporting that position. Business professors have the most conservatives - about a quarter. The middle-most disciplines are computer science and engineering, which report nearly 90% moderation.

When we look by generation, the Baby Boomers, now aged 50 to shading off to retirement at 65, are the most liberal. Boomer humanities professors are the most liberal group of all, with nearly three quarters choosing that label and negligible percentages choosing "conservative."

The younger generations, though, are notably less liberal than the Boomers, and more moderate. Gen X humanities professors, for example, have only half the rate of liberals that their elders show.

There are significant variations by disciplinary area. The Boomer scientists are not nearly as liberal as their humanities counterparts are; Gen X scientists, though, show more liberals than their elders. My guess is that this reflects the massive increase in women in science after the Baby Boom generation.

The general trend across all disciplines, though, is that the professoriate will get less liberal and more moderate as the older generations retire. This is good news for centrism.

1 comment:

Olivia said...

I believe that this study signifies a very important change that is occurring in the peoples politics today. Gen Xers have grown up in a world where they don't have to be one thing or another, but instead they can blend views and come to endings that may not follow common thought patterns. On the other hand, I think that Baby boomers grew up with the feeling that they had to take a side and stay loyal to that side. Gen Xers have seen that this kind of side taking only proves to inhibit true efficiency and justice.