Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations -- except such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies. In contrast, American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome. They do indeed cultivate diversity -- in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought.
Johnson agrees, adding that the problem is less an overt one of "only hiring progressives", but rather (especially in history) a problem of crafting "new lines" of history that are more likely to attract only leftists -- such as gender history, race history, and so forth. He writes:
That college faculties are imbalanced between Democrats and Republicans is not a problem in and of itself. It is, rather, a symptom of the problem: the academy increasingly crafting new lines in such a way to skew ideologically, with a strong emphasis on positions that stress race, class, or gender.
As I’ve noted previously, (the University of Michigan History Department) is a department that has crafted recent job descriptions in U.S. history to hire its 9th, 10th, and 11th specialists in race in America, even as it has hired no professors in U.S. diplomatic or military history, fields perceived (sometimes inaccurately) as more conservative. That job descriptions have been crafted to stress not a department’s curricular needs or intellectual balance but instead fields considered ideologically acceptable by the department’s majority means that the critical decisions have been made even before the search committee first sits.
I hadn't given that line of argument much thought, but it certainly rings true here. When I was hired full-time at Pasadena City College in 1994, I was one of two Europeanists on the faculty. (The senior man had a background in 17th and 18th century cultural history; my background, if not my passion, was in medieval England and political history). In 1994, we didn't have any "world history" classes; we just had "western civ" courses, US history, and some regional specialty classes (Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, East Asia).
Over my objections at the time, my colleagues voted to create courses in "world history" in 1995. Initially, while the senior Europeanist and I were both teaching, our courses in western civ far outnumbered those in world history. But when he retired in 1998, he was replaced by a young Latino scholar whose specialty was, of course, in world history. Indeed, our last three hires in the division have been for TWO positions in world history and one in Latin American history. I've been told more than once recently that on a campus of almost 30,000 (with only 11 tenured historians), "one Europeanist is enough."
At four-year colleges, they don't offer positions that simply ask for a specialty in world history. But at the community college, that is the "hot field" -- and it is stacked with progressives. World history seeks to dismantle what it sees as the myth of "western" uniqueness. My two colleagues who teach world history are fine people, but thoroughly accepting of the tired old "Black Athena" theory. Indeed, they have acquired a reputation (one is Latino, one is Asian) as being "anti-white", as reflected in student evaluations and comments on web-based teacher rating sites.
I can't say I've helped the cause much. When I was first hired, I taught five sections of Western Civ and a section of British History. My now-retired friend taught another five sections of Western Civ, and a section of Humanities. Now, I teach four sections of Western Civ (with one other section taught by an adjunct), while my other courses are in Women's History and "men and masculinity." Thus, the number of course offerings in Western Civ has been neatly halved in the last decade, while the student body has grown by 20%. My own shift towards gender work has further reduced the number of offerings in the division. Indeed, sadly, my decision to develop courses in Gay and Lesbian History and Men's History has meant that no one has taught British History since I last did so in the spring of 2000. I'll get back to it again, but a decade or two ago, it was taught every semester without fail.
30,000 students, and not one lecture on Boudicca, the battle of Bannockburn, or Bonnie Prince Charlie. But lots and lots to say about medieval Mali.
We are asking for funding for two new hires in 2005 in history; our official requests are for a second East Asia specialist and a modern US social historian. At times, I feel guilty for having left the more conservative field of British History (which I taught from a decidedly political, narrative perspective) for the sexier, hipper world of gender studies. Student demand clearly leans towards these edgier classes. But something is surely being lost, and I suspect intellectual diversity is perhaps it.