Diversity, Equity, and Intrusion in the Sciences

David Acevedo

CounterCurrent: Week of 7/4

Happy belated Independence Day! It is now a true act of rebellion to unapologetically celebrate our nation and its profoundly rich history. I hope you, like me, were able to spend the day surrounded by family and friends, reflecting upon the wonderful gift that is America. If you’re still in a July-4th mood, consider checking out our recent webinar, 1776: The American Character in History and Teaching (and the rest of our American history webinar series), in which our speakers discuss this monumental year and its lasting significance for the American people.

Now, back to business as usual...

Progressives’ illiberal takeover of higher education is nothing new—the young revolutionaries of the 1960s have risen through the ranks and are now our professors, administrators, and college presidents. We’re used to this heavy ideological skew in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, where there is often near-unanimity in adherence to leftist principles. A January 2020 study showed that, in fields such as anthropology, sociology, and English, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by as great a ratio as 42.2:1. 

The leftist skew is far less extreme in STEM fields, but is still present nonetheless, with chemistry, mathematics, and biology providing ratios of 4.5:1, 5.5:1, and 9.4:1 D:R, respectively. Combined with the strong progressive skew of the administrators overseeing these departments, even these rates are enough to erode the principles of liberal education in the hard sciences. In fact, this has already begun. Science professors can no longer afford to hide in their research and ignore the ideologues in those other departments. The woke are now knocking at the door, demanding the very core of science itself.

In this week’s featured article, Christopher Sanfilippo examines the ways in which science has been corrupted at America’s flagship university: Harvard. Christopher is the National Association of Scholars’ most recent hire, a research associate working on our brand-new DEI in the Sciences Project, which will examine the scope and deleterious effects of DEI initiatives in American STEM departments. In this piece, he cites as examples Harvard Medical School’s “anti-racism initiatives,” the push to dumb-down the infamous Math 55 class (known as the most difficult undergraduate mathematics course in the country), and the School for Engineering and Applied Science’s “Strategic Plan for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.” But Harvard is far from alone—virtually every STEM department in the country now touts its DEI plans, and those who care about the future of American science ought to be concerned.

These programs are not empty gestures meant to appease college administrators—they will enforce a strict ideological orthodoxy (not diversity!) within STEM faster than you can say “Ministry of Truth,” hindering scientific advancement in the long-run:

What will be the outcome of all this? Students and faculty will be recruited who are not prepared. Standards of academic rigor will be lowered. Millions will be spent supporting a bloated bureaucracy of deans and administrators whose primary job is to tell others that they are racist. Time that could have been spent studying and researching will instead be spent in DEI trainings. Overall, the quality and prestige of Harvard University will diminish. Rational inquiry and the scientific method will be sacrificed to the new idols: diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Sanfilippo proposes increasing institutional transparency so as to expose “just how much money is being spent on DEI programs instead of the true aims of the university – education and research.” This, along with the inevitable decline in American scientific achievement that DEI programs will bring, may be what it takes to turn STEM departments around. For now, though, we can continue to pretend that 2 + 2 = 5.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: See-ming Lee, Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, cropped.

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