Intellectual Diversity at Religious Colleges

Intellectual Diversity at Religious Colleges

by Josiah F. Marineau and Shawn Williams, Campbellsville University

Higher education has increasingly faced accusations, often well-founded, that it is far less ideologically diverse than the rest of the United States.  In their contribution to a symposium in PS: Political Science evaluating whether this is true and why it might matter, Marineau and Williams (2019) argue that religiously-affiliated liberal arts colleges (RLACs) offer a surprising range of ideological diversity despite public perceptions to the contrary.  Evidence suggests that this ideological diversity is maintained through a greater representation of conservative faculty voices than at most schools, particularly larger, research focused institutions.

They also argue that the ideological balance found at RLACs provides a range of benefits both in and out of the classroom.  Not the least among these is building and maintaining relationship with their communities.  Unfortunately, they also point out that these schools are among the most threatened in Academia.  They face growing political pressure as they continue to struggle with other forms of diversity, including the range of religious views among faculty and staff and poor outreach to LGBTQ+ communities.  They also face mounting financial pressures driven in large part by their geographic locations and difficulties facing the communities they traditionally serve.

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