Monday, April 4, 2016

Diversity, Harmony and acedemia

The Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are sometimes articulated as Unity, Diversity/Differences and Harmony (of Diversity). We could describe Dharma practice as Seeing/Being Unity, discovering our various ways of habitual reactiveness to the Diversity of forms and conditions, Differences, and then clarifying and manifesting the Harmony of Unity Differences. These themes are significant in ongoing practice and cast a light on tendencies of attachment and delusion which result in suffering and harming. And it is always our daily life where and how this arises, where our habits and reactions perpetuate and maintain dhukkha, right here is our practice, our manifesting the Three Treasures.

This theme is evident in our reactions to beliefs about political candidates who we like and dislike. As I alluded to in a previous blog Dharma talk, Not Speaking of the Faults of Others  3/27/16 , if you can not sit zazen when you find, among those sitting in the Zendo with you, Hillary Clinton on one side of you, Ted Cruz on the other side, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and John Kasich across from you, right here is your practice and the precepts.

Having connections with a number of academics, I hear all sorts of things about the environment and relations among faculty and administrators in universities in various parts of the world. My own experience is limited to years of teaching at various universities which ended many years ago. There are many aspects of the university environment and relations which are for many an important practice realm.

Two recent articles have been brought to my attention in relation to this matter of differences, diversity and the harmony or non-harmony manifested.

The following is an excerpt from a review of Passing on the Right By Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr.

"Conservatives have good reason to view American universities as hostile territory. The 2006 Politics of the American Professoriate survey, conducted by the sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, found that 17.6% of faculty in the social sciences consider themselves Marxists. Only 3.6% consider themselves conservatives. The same survey suggested that if the election of 2004 had been held exclusively in faculty lounges, John Kerry would have won in a historic landslide, 77.6% to 20.4%.

Progressive academics, otherwise so skilled at finding the prejudice behind every disparity, typically shrug this off. According to Mr. Gross, the explanation professors most often give for the scarcity of conservatives among their colleagues is that conservatives are close-minded. The second most popular explanation is that they are too money hungry to settle for a professor’s salary. In other words, if conservative academics are rare, they have their own defects to blame.

In “Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University,” Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. are not complaining—conservatives both, they are tenured political scientists at Claremont McKenna College and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. They aim to understand those conservatives who, despite being “widely stigmatized in academia,” have nonetheless made a home in higher education: What are they like, and how do they think they are doing? "

 And here is another article in a similar but slightly different vein:

"The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

I’ve seen faculty searches up close. Somehow teachers with conservative views just don’t make the cut."

 "Many universities are redoubling their efforts to diversify their faculties in response to last fall’s wave of protests from student groups representing women and minorities. Yale, for example, has announced a $50 million, five-year initiative to enhance faculty diversity. Brown has committed $100 million to hire 60 additional faculty members from historically underrepresented groups over the next five to seven years. America’s institutions of higher education seem committed to faculty diversity. But are they really?                                       
                                                                                                                       In the more than 20 years that I have been a professor at Georgetown University, I have been involved in many faculty searches. Every one begins with a strong exhortation from the administration to recruit more women and minority professors. We are explicitly reminded that every search is a diversity search.
 Administrators require submission of a plan to vigorously recruit applications from women and minority candidates.Before we even begin our selection process, we must receive approval from the provost that our outreach efforts have been vigorous enough. The deans and deputy deans of each school reinforce the message that no expense should be spared to increase the genetic diversity of our faculty.Yet, in my experience, no search committee has ever been instructed to increase political or ideological diversity. 
On the contrary, I have been involved in searches in which the chairman of the selection committee stated that no libertarian candidates would be considered. Or the description of the position was changed when the best résumés appeared to be coming from applicants with right-of-center viewpoints. Or in which candidates were dismissed because of their association with conservative or libertarian institutions...."

"...The relentless call to actively recruit women and minority candidates arises from the fear that if left to their own devices, predominantly white male faculties will identify merit with those who look and think like them, undervalue the contributions of those from different backgrounds, and perpetuate a white male stranglehold on the academy. Yet without an exhortation to pursue viewpoint diversity, this is exactly what happens.

Predominantly liberal faculties identify merit with positions that are consistent with theirs, see little value in conservative and libertarian scholarship, and perpetuate the left-wing stranglehold on the academy.

Having a diverse faculty is a genuine value for a university and its students. Indeed, it may be valuable enough to justify spending $50 million or $100 million to increase the percentage of women and minority professors. But if diversity is really such an important academic value, then why are universities making no effort to increase the political and ideological diversity of their faculties?"