Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University

Jon A. Fields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. Oxford Univ, $29.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-19-986305-1
Shields and Dunn, professors of government at Claremont McKenna College and the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs, respectively, team up to survey the plight of academic conservatives and the stigma they face on overwhelmingly liberal campuses. Based on extensive interviews, their evenhanded study throws light on a “hidden world” that exists within the ostensible leftist monoculture of the social sciences and humanities. Sociology is a particularly one-sided field, in which outspoken conservatives are likely to face strong opposition from their peers. On the other hand, economics abides multiple viewpoints. The authors provocatively compare the state of many right-wing professors to gay people living in “the closet.” To avoid suspicion, “closet conservatives” conceal their politics, self-protectively designing research agendas to cover their tracks and engaging in self-censorship on résumés, publications, donations, and grants, especially prior to tenure. By remaining silent, they pass as liberals among other-minded colleagues. Shields and Dunn try to show that conservative professors are not closed-minded or combative by nature. Instead, the academics profiled here consistently remain faithful to academic ideals. Correcting the ideological imbalance will be difficult, the authors conclude. They quixotically propose affirmative-action hiring for academic conservatives but admit the idea has a near absence of support among the professoriat, even on the right. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
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