HXA member Dr. Clay Routledge, social psychologist and professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University, has crafted an important and informative piece in Scientific American on the lack of viewpoint diversity when we champion diversity on campus.
Routledge gets right into the main issue, that “Conservatives have little influence in the scholarly disciplines that have the most to say about social and cultural life, family, and mental health.” Before readers think this is an anti-Liberal screed, it is anything but because the lack of viewpoint diversity on campus diminishes opportunities by all students to develop deeper understanding and solidified opinions based on exchange, engagement and empathy.
Some may not see why this is a problematic concern but Routledge deftly outlines why this matters for both college students and professors- as well as those outside campus environs.
Firstly, as Routledge point out, “The problem is how the personal ideologies of social psychologists can influence how the topic is studied.” If there is a predominant viewpoint from study makers, the other side will be demonized and can skew public perception and influence further research. It is a tail eating, perpetuating cycle.
More broadly, outside of social psychology the lack of viewpoint diversity in less empirical or more activist-oriented social sciences has undoubtedly had a much more dramatic impact on the theories and claims advanced in those disciplines, as Routledge explains, allowing for a prevailing narrative to take a preferred position among researchers. It is hard to see how we fully benefit from a singularly dominant- and influential- outlook among those studying our behavior and looking into trends.
Lastly, “a lack of viewpoint diversity also has many practical consequences for university life. For one, some college campuses have become overtly hostile toward students who dare to openly question far-left orthodoxy [see our guide to colleges for a list]. Likewise, the safe space, trigger warning, and microaggression movements that have emerged at many colleges are making it more and more difficult to have open discussions about controversial topics.”
Routledge wisely concludes by asking the right questions as to the future of higher education. “Do we want colleges to become increasingly self-segregated so that conservative parents send their kids to more conservative schools and liberal parents send their kids to more liberal schools? Do we want young liberals to think it is okay to hide from ideas or censor speech they don’t like, or young conservatives to think college is not for them? This will only further divide and ultimately weaken us as a nation.”
Opinions expressed are those of the author(s). Publication does not imply endorsement by Heterodox Academy or any of its members. We welcome your comments below. Feel free to challenge and disagree, but please try to model the sort of respectful and constructive criticism that makes viewpoint diversity most valuable. Comments that include obscenity or aggression are likely to be deleted.