Matthew Karp, a history professor at Princeton, wrote an interesting thread on what has happened to his academic discipline over the past few years.
Interesting and unsurprisingly very troubling.
History Departments are no longer interested in teaching history per se but the history of ethnic groups. This is revealed in the job postings from history departments.
Overall postings in US history dropped from an average of 156 t-t jobs per year to an average of under 99. Even leaving out the Covid drop in 2020, the average over the last two years is 115.5. That’s a substantial and possibly crippling decline, as @dbessner & others have noted.
— Matt Karp 🌹🦏🇺🇸 (@karpmj) January 18, 2023
The change in focus is quite striking. In only a decade, job postings focused on historical periods and American history have plummeted in number, but postings focused on ethnicity studies have exploded.
Jobs focused on research and teaching of American history were nearly 30% of all jobs in 2011 and 2012, Jobs focused on ethnic groups made up about 16% of the jobs.
Moving forward a decade, American history professors made up 6.4% of the hires, and ethnic studies made up more than half of the jobs.
Half. With 35% of the jobs focused on African American history.
Now imagine what is taught in those classes, and the chances that any of those classes aren’t about spewing Marxist propaganda are near zero.
When I presented this to my department, some colleagues suggested that the dip in ‘chronological’ jobs and the growth of ‘group-focused’ jobs—especially in African-American History—may reflect a particular response to the murder of George Floyd, rather than a lasting new reality
— Matt Karp 🌹🦏🇺🇸 (@karpmj) January 18, 2023
Now keep in mind that hiring decisions are made mainly by faculty themselves, although the types of jobs funded are largely determined by the administrators of the schools.
This tells you two things: the administrations wanted to focus mainly on DEI-driven jobs, and now the people who make the actual hiring decisions for the next generation of faculty are going to be professors whose Leftism makes the earlier generation who hired them look positively Right-wing.
In other words, it will almost be impossible for colleges and universities to self-correct this trend. Even if academic administrations become less DEI-focused, the people hired over the past decade will have an outsized impact on hiring new faculty.
To borrow a phrase from Leftists, the problem has become “structural.” The hiring system will emphasize on hiring the most Left-wing professors that the administrators will allow. For the foreseeable future, those administrators will continue their current practices until forced to change. That will take a long while, if ever.
If and when the administrations try to correct this, they will be faced with a faculty that is made up not just of liberals but cultural Marxists, who will be very unlikely to want anything but ideological clones.
Now add to that these Leftists are training the next generation of professors, and the situation is already close to hopeless.
Academia is poisoned. The liberals of the ’60s opened the door for the radicals of today with all the best intentions. Believing in academic freedom, they brought in a generation whose goals are not primarily academic but ideological.
As a big fan of the principle of academic freedom, I don’t oppose the idea of studying and even teaching radical ideologies; what I object to is the tendency to allow nothing but the teaching of radical ideologies. Critiques of Western society have a place in Western institutions, but Western institutions depend on the baseline acceptance of the Western value of freedom of thought.
That value is now reviled by a majority of people who run our academic institutions, who see their role as destroying the current order.
Academic freedom, like all freedoms, requires people to observe certain norms, including the toleration of ideas that differ from one’s own. That norm is gone.
Rights may exist prior to institutions, but the free exercise of rights depends on rules and norms that uphold them.
People retain their rights in tyrannies; they don’t have the ability to exercise those God-given rights. When powerful institutions suppress those rights, they cease to have relevance.
Academic freedom is dead as long as the Marxist “decolonizers” run our institutions. Any professor or administrator who can’t commit to preserving freedom of thought for all people, not just their own ideological compatriots, should be fired. Fired not for their beliefs, but for their opposition to the foundational principles of free inquiry on which everything else in academia depend.
In other words, to defend freedom, you have to weed out the ideologists. Firing the DEI crowd isn’t an infringement of academic freedom, but the only way to reestablish it.