Episode #50: The Partisan Professoriate with Mitchell Langbert

Peter Wood

In this week’s episode, Peter is joined by Mitchell Langbert, Associate Professor of Business at Brooklyn College, to discuss the political affiliation of university professors and his upcoming article in Academic Questions. As the nation’s partisan divide entrenches itself, more attention is being paid to what affect this partisanship has on teaching, research, and institutional trust. Peter and Mitchell go on to discuss Sarah Lawrence College and the internal contradictions of John Dewey’s progressive education.

Show Notes

3:10 Mitchell discusses his interest in organizations and how that connects to his research on the partisan affiliation of professors.

5:29 Is the overwhelmingly leftward tilt of university faculty due to self-selection?

7:24 Peter asks Mitchell: Is there’s anything in your early life that lead you to delve into the partisan affiliation of professors?

9:19 Mitchell discusses academia is as a political tool.

12:12 Peter asks: “Why did you go into such a crowded field? How did you manage to attract so much attention to your work? “

16:30 Mitchell and Peter discuss the various hypotheses explaining the gap between conservative and liberal faculty. They take particular aim at the self-selection hypothesis.

20:36 Peter and Mitchell discuss the de-Christianization of colleges throughout the 20th century

22:05 What is CFAT? And why did it have such a heavy hand in transforming universities from conservative bastions to staples of progressivism?

24:26 The ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 10.5 to 1 across the colleges he surveyed. Mitchell explains how he came to that ratio. Another 39% of colleges surveyed did not have a single Republican.

25:48 Peter asks, “Why are Republicans so toxic?” Mitchell and Peter discuss the various ways that the political parties have consolidated or split, and how partisanship effects institutional biases and prestige.

33:00 Mitchell explains the various breakdowns of his data by discipline, region, and gender. They also discuss the various disciplines that have “balance” such as STEM.

47:10 Mitchell discusses his use of federal contribution data to illustrate the polarization of faculty.

1:01:45 Mitchell discusses his upcoming article in Academic Questions on the failure of progressive learning at Sarah Lawrence College.

Resources

Mitchell Langbert and Sean Stevens, “Partisan Registration and Contributions of Faculty in Flagship Colleges,” nas.org, January 17, 2020.

Mitchell Langbert, “Homogenous: The Political Affiliations of Elite Liberal Arts College Faculty,” Academic Questions 31.2, Summer 2018.

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