Rachna Shah
Sep 7, 2017

Defining the Relationship


What do you view as the relationship between politics and academia? This definition can be general or as specific as referring to your own local community.

Rachna Shah
Sep 8, 2017

One argument is that politics should not play a role in academia. Professors should be hired based off of their expertise and competence, not based off of their political leaning, ideology, and/or associations.

Sep 10, 2017

One issue that I've seen raised by Christina Hoff Sommers is that some departments often behave more like activist groups than places for academic inquiry. Subjects like sociology, gender studies, and others are extremely skewed left: Jonathan Haidt found an eye-popping 266:1 ratio of liberals to conservatives in the field of social psychology. https://heterodoxacademy.org/2016/01/07/new-study-finds-conservative-social-psychologists/

Mayank Karnani
Sep 10, 2017

The role of Academia is not to promote an ideology but to provide scholars and students with the platform to discuss the issues that we face in more impartial manner.

Rachna Shah
Sep 10, 2017

That's quite true - with an imbalance of liberal professors and conservative professors, the article from the LA Times argues that that is still possible.

Sep 10, 2017


After reading all the above comments and articles that have been shared, I am so surprised to see what impact our political views could have on our academia. Being a non US citizen and belonging from a country where the terms "liberal" and "conservative" do not hold a significant role, it is quite hard for me to observe the impact of a teacher's political opinions on students and the way teachers shape their student's mind. Most of the people in my community abide by the rules of Islam, not the Sharia law, but a way of life that balances the laws prescribed by Islam and the laws from the West, which have worked out for many countries and are permissible under the Islamic way of life. With that being said, I would say that Pakistan is a conservative country, since Islam, the dominant religion in the region is the reason why the liberal or conservative ways of life are accepted or rejected. The definition of liberal and conservative ideology is different in Pakistan in comparison to the US. Women driving vehicles on the road would not be necessarily labeled as being a liberal minded in the US, but in Pakistan on the other hand, it is considered that the woman and her family are very open minded to the thought of women driving on the roads. Another example can be the joint family system. In Pakistan, if a married man decides to live with his wife in a separate house, rather than living with his parents and siblings, he is considered to be a liberal. While in the US, adults prefer to not live with their parents and siblings and choose to live in a separate house and they are not labeled liberals, because conservatives would do the exact same thing.

Talking about politics and academia, the same pattern is followed. We have boundaries here which make us less of a liberal and more of a conservative. The political mindset is conservative and no one is ashamed or embarrassed to say it out loud, because religion is everyone's first priority. Nobody questions religion and so there is no chance that you are in class having a conversation with your teacher about gay rights. It is a taboo to talk about men who love men or women who love women. A conversation is never initiated and so the students are not only deprived of knowledge that genders other than male and female are equally as important as the two they already know of are, but there are students who are not aware of the fact that the LGBTQ+ community even exists. The student will then be unaware for the rest of her/his life until she/he comes across the rest of the genders through the internet or some sort of informative source but it might be too late because by the age she/he finds the truth out, she/he might not accept it because their minds had been limited to two genders only.

This leads me to a conclusion that politics and academia are related and a teacher's political views can have a negative impact on the student.

Rachna Shah
Sep 10, 2017

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! It's interesting to see how politics permeates academia throughout the world. The shutting out of certain viewpoints or ideas or even having them be silenced restricts the freedom of students, both intellectually and otherwise.

Jérémy Chane-tu
Sep 16, 2017Edited: Sep 16, 2017

I think that this relationship is very complex.

Some academicians are engaged in political parties, in political activities. Some of them are actually deeply involved with high positions in political parties.

Beyond this "human" aspect, there is something more.

Indeed, politics and policies are based on ideas, on needs. If politicians are aware of these needs, it's first of all thanks to the academicians works.

The truth is that professors are not only teaching, they are also researching. It is so thanks to an academic work, to studies, that the policies are made.

The Professors themselves, and the academia will indeed influence the spread of an ideology. But before that, they are the one who provide the necessary ressources to develop politics.

I think that academia is the beginning and the end of politics ; they create a concept that some politician will develop and apply, and by the end, it'll be academia again that will be talking about this concept that is now a policy ; and once this policy is obselete, academia will be finally the last one to talk about it.

Rachna Shah
Sep 16, 2017

That's a really interesting cycle that you've developed - I agree with your analysis.

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