Academic Freedom Under Threat: What’s to be Done?

A talk by Oregon Association of Scholars President Bruce Gilley

David Acevedo

Editor's Note: This article was originally published under the name "John David," the former pseudonym of NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To learn more about why David no longer writes under this name, click here.


Regrettably, Left-wing domination of academia is a fact of life and has been for decades. The problem does not necessarily lie in that there are more faculty members on the Left than on the Right, but that Leftist professors and administrators actively use their power to quash opposing viewpoints and prevent them from gaining a foothold in the academy. Surely, there are radicals on both sides who pose a threat to intellectual freedom, but only the Left possesses the political and bureaucratic power to ensure success for themselves.

This ideological hegemony has bled out into culture at large, sometimes referred to as “the campus-ization of Western culture.” This has all but completely saturated journalism, big tech, and other major industries with progressive ideologies.

In his recent talk at Oxford University titled “Academic Freedom Under Threat: What’s to be Done?,” Oregon Association of Scholars President Bruce Gilley outlines these pressing issues and presents potential avenues for reform. Gilley does not bemoan the mere presence of Leftist professors on campus, but rather the lengths they will go to bar other perspectives from inhabiting the Overton window. He frames the lack of intellectual diversity in academia as a “market failure,” one that is most effectively corrected through the use of political power. As a conservative, Gilley believes that this approach should be used cautiously, but that it is nonetheless necessary due to the overwhelming scope of the problem.

Contrary to some of his peers on the Right, Gilley maintains that policy change comes first and cultivating a culture of tolerance comes second. In his view, true and lasting reform is only possible through the creation of “positive freedoms,” that is, not simply telling higher education “You can’t do that,” but also “You must do this.” These positive freedoms include closing offices of diversity and student life, abolishing “grievance studies” departments, expanding definitions of discrimination to include ideological discrimination, and creating outside hiring procedures for faculty and administrators.

View the full talk:


Bruce Gilley is a professor of political science at Portland State University, as well as the president of the Oregon Association of Scholars, an NAS regional affiliate.

Image: Delfi de la Rua, Public Domain 

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