Viewpoint Diversity

“Diversity is all the rage on college campuses. And for good reason. It is important for the diversity of our nation to be reflected in higher education and beyond. However, the people who champion gender, racial, and cultural diversity often shun viewpoint diversity. Universities have become increasingly ideologically homogeneous. This is especially the case in the social sciences; fewer than 10 percent of professors in these fields identify as conservative, and this number keeps shrinking. Conservatives have little influence in the scholarly disciplines that have the most to say about social and cultural life, family, and mental health.” —   Clay Routledge, Viewpoint Diversity, Scientific American

One thought on “Viewpoint Diversity”

  1. No.
    It is distinctly NOT “important for the diversity of our nation to be reflected in higher education and beyond”. Why should it be?

    Diversity is itself an empty concept…a hollow conceit…full of political bluster, signifying nothing.

    Why would it be important in any way whatsoever that my teacher (or my classmate) look like me…or look unlike me? Why is it important that they be my age (or not my age)…my skin color (or not)….my gender (or not)…speak with my accent (or not)….be sexually attracted to the same gender (or not)? If I were born in Idaho, should I seek teachers & friends who were also born in Idaho (because we’re all minorities and that increases my sense of ‘belonging’)? Or should I seek teachers and friends who are not Idahoans because that increases my ‘diversity’ and my feeling of ‘isolation’?? I am confused: which way is up and which way is who….and should the college, in any case, focus on hiring or not hiring more Idahoans??

    The truth is — to make such superficial distinctions is to declare, implicitly, that appearance really does matter. To champion demographic diversity in any way at all is to champion superficiality (at the significant price of substance). It is and always has been a foolish & wrong-headed thing to do and leads us entirely in a very bad direction.

    I do not value a Cardiac Surgery Team because each member is gender(ly), racially, and culturally diverse — I value them because they know everything there is to know about cardiac surgery (I don’t care if they all look alike, speak alike, and grew up in the same town).

    So too should be value our colleagues: NOT because they’re superficially different (each from the other (which, btw, they already are)) but because they’re smart…because they work hard…because they add something of significance to the larger Conversation….because they help to open our minds to larger Truths.

    Demographic diversity doesn’t do that at all. Viewpoint diversity, however, CAN do that…but only, of course, if it is appropriately aligned. If I wish to learn advanced physics, please don’t saddle me with a specialist in Incan Religion (though their viewpoint would be significantly different!)

    In any case, we cannot easily measure Viewpoint Diversity — nor is it visible from a distance. Past time we recognize this essential truth and focused our hiring and selection efforts on Quality and ignore entirely the color of the booties we all wear, the shape of our anatomy, and the tonal variation in our skin.

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