Friday, May 23, 2008

Affirmative action for conservatives?

Some years ago, the department here launched into a discussion of affirmative action. One faculty member, who has since retired, and who defined himself as a libertarian, argued that it would be consistent with the principles of diversity to hire a politically conservative sociologist. Half the department chuckled, the other half was more than a little upset.

While... turns out that Colorado U. is looking to hire a political conservative under the banner of diversity. As with our department, some are responding in outrage there. I'm not actually that engaged with this type of culture wars, but I find the proposition and the reaction to it amusing (again).


Knumb said...

Might be difficult to afford one... chortle.

Tom Steiger said...

I am a sociologist, will begin my 22 year at my university. Was a full fledged member of the "left" during grad school. The faculties at my three student universities were far more intellectually diverse than what I see today in soc faculties. So, I don't see the notion of intellectual diversity as a bad thing.

There is nothing inherently left or right about sociology. Only in the way the sociologist uses it.

I was fortunate while a grad student to attend a most incredible summer institute on marxism. It drew all the "sun gods of marxism" at the time, such as Henri Lefebvre, Raymond Williams, Perry Anderson, ... . I took a course from Anderson. And I got to spend some personal time with him.. I drove him to Chicago, showed him around, we drank some and we talked about "stuff."

I recall complaining to him that as a student of the left, we had to read more, because the faculty were so conservative. He told me that made us better students and we should read everything, what we agree with and what we don't. I embraced that advice and have never practiced what Comte suggested, "cerebral hygiene." I read that which counters my views. If it makes me a better scholar, why wouldn't the same make for better academic departments, if what we are trying to do, in part, is to influence our students' minds?

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Brad Wright said...

Hello Tom,

Thanks for posting. Sounds like you had an incredible experience with the summer workshop...

I agree with the idea of becoming familiar with all things in our field, even those we disagree with. It can't but help make us better scholars.