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Gary A. Tobin, Ph.D.
President, Institute for Jewish & Community Research
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Survey Shows Pervasive "Groupthink" on American Campuses

Nearly 1 of 3 American Faculty Cited U.S. as One of World's Most Dangerous Nations

San Francisco – (October 18, 2006) According to a survey released today by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), 63% of university faculty say colleagues are reluctant to express their true opinions when those opinions contradict dominant views on campus.

The IJCR’s survey, A Profile of American College Faculty, includes the recently released monograph, “Political Beliefs and Behavior,” and forthcoming reports on faculty religious beliefs and faculty attitudes on the Middle East.  “Political Beliefs and Behavior” paints a detailed picture of the political leanings of American faculty.  Professors are three times as likely to identify as liberal than as conservative.  Social science and humanities faculty are five times as likely to identify as liberal than as conservative.

In addition, the survey unearthed a dominant faculty political culture on a range of topics:

  • American Foreign Policy: Almost one third (29%) of faculty cited the U.S. among the top two greatest threats to international stability – more than Iran (27%), China (19%), and Iraq (13%). Only North Korea ranked higher, at 70%.
  • American Domestic Policy: As Congress considered changes to the USA PATRIOT Act, 64% of faculty wanted it weakened and only 5% wanted it strengthened.
  • Internationalism: By a 3-to-1 margin, faculty favored the sovereignty of the International Court of Justice even when its decisions contradict U.S. interests, and nearly half of faculty opposed unilateral action by the U.S. to stop the violence in Darfur even if peacemaking efforts by the United Nations and others fail.
  • Trade and Business: Nearly three quarters (73%) of faculty believed international trade agreements hurt less developed countries.

The IJCR report questions how tenure, hiring, and recruitment practices affect the political culture on campus. It also recommends policies that address the issue. “Groupthink of any stripe creates a dangerous milieu for teaching and scholarship,” said Gary Tobin, president of IJCR. “If faculty aligned to the right, the threat to higher education would be identical.”

Results were based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,269 faculty members at four-year colleges and universities conducted in spring 2005. Margin of error is +/- 3%. For a copy of “Political Beliefs and Behavior” and for more information on the survey and IJCR, please visit IJCR’s web site: www.jewishresearch.org. 

The Institute for Jewish & Community Research is engaged in research and analysis on a broad range of issues including racial and religious identity, philanthropy, and higher education. The Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank, and provides innovative research and pragmatic policy analyses to Jewish and other communities around the world.

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