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Monday, November 03, 2008

Stubborn as a Mule (Elephant)

Whether professors should, er, profess their political views in the school setting has been the subject of some attention, including this recent Prawfs discussion and an earlier one last spring.  Among the issues raised are questions about the propriety of such expression, both pedagogically and as a matter of professionalism; the extent to which state institutions can and should quash political speech on campus; and the influence a largely liberal (and actively so, by one measure) faculty might have upon students of differing viewpoints (a related concern—inhospitality to conservative views on campus—has in recent years resulted in calls for attention to intellectual diversity and a legislative role in ensuring it).

As to the last point--the influence professors might have on the ideologies of their students--the results are in, and it seems that those fears (or hopes, I suppose, depending upon one’s perspective) can be put to rest:  When it comes to substantively influencing the political views of students, professors are among the least effective players, lagging well behind parents, family, the media and peers.  Whether espousing one’s views in the university realm is a good (and productive) idea, and the extent to which it can be curtailed, are issues that are still up for discussion.  But if it’s done, it won’t make nearly the difference that a robot can in changing someone’s mind—or vote.

Posted by Nadine Farid on November 3, 2008 at 09:08 PM in Law and Politics | Permalink


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» Do Liberal Academics Make Students Liberal?: from The Volokh Conspiracy
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