Reflections on Academic Liberalism and Conservative Criticism

Matthew Woessner, Pennsylvania State University
April Kelly-Woessner, Elizabethtown College


Liberal bias in academia is a complex sociological issue. The empirical evidence suggests that part of the explanation for ideological imbalance is that conservatives tend to self-select out of careers in higher education. We examine the explanation offered by Neil Gross that political-typing is partially responsible. While we are generally receptive to this explanation, our own research provides some evidence that college students do not find academia to be a hostile or unpleasant place. This raises some questions about why they would self-select out of careers in academia. We also offer alternative explanations for conservative criticism of the academy and suggest that institutions of higher education have some responsibility for creating the impression that they are hostile to conservative views.