IJCR Research Review
The Institute has completed the first-ever comprehensive survey of the political, religious, and social beliefs of college faculty as part of a larger body of work addressing anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education. Politics and Propaganda in America’s Educational Systems is a research initiative of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, with the intention to further understand and to address rising levels of hostility toward Jews and Israel in American academia.
Our work in 2006 focused on the analysis and distribution of data obtained in the survey of American university faculty fielded by the Institute in 2005. The survey measured the political, religious, and social views of over 1,200 college faculty members representing over 700 universities. A total of 6,600 faculty members were randomly selected for the starting sample, stratified by field and region. The survey of faculty was conducted as an online, web-based survey.
The faculty survey data is being released as a three-volume series. Each volume is being released as it is completed, and, in addition, all three will be re-released as a single bound unit after the completion of the third volume. To date, the Institute has published the first two in the three-volume set. The first was “The Political Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty”. The second was “The Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty”.
“The Political Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty” was released early in 2006. It received significant attention, particularly from faculty themselves. The report’s findings corroborated that faculty are almost monolithic in many of their political beliefs and also in their voting patterns. The report does not argue that faculty beliefs are right or wrong, but rather that, regardless of the direction of the political tilt among faculty, any dominant political ideology is inherently anti-intellectual. The overall position is that opposing views encourage healthy debate, and where honest debate is absent, propaganda flourishes.
“The Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty” was completed at the end of 2006 and released in April of 2007. The report measured not only faculty views of their own religion and its importance to them, but also their feelings about others’ religion and the role of religion in politics. The findings revealed that, while faculty are less religious than the American public, they are far from being anti-religious.
The majority of faculty identify with a religion and feel that religion is somewhat important in their lives and for their family. They would like their children to have at least some religious training and themselves attend religious services at least occasionally. However, faculty are more personal about their religion than the American public. For the most part, they object to expressions of religion in the public sector, though notably this tendency is far stronger for some religions than others. Faculty are generally skeptical, if not hostile toward Evangelical Christians, especially in the public sector. However, faculty are overwhelmingly tolerant of most religions.
The third volume will focus on faculty views on Israel and the Middle East and will be supplemented with 2007 data that re-surveys faculty on some questions and poses new ones to add to the analysis. This volume will also explore how anti-Israelism fits into the religious and political ideologies on campus and how, if at all, discussion of Israel is impacted by faculty political, social and religious identity.
The faculty survey was a success in terms of both data creation and dissemination. The Institute’s work has provided quantitative data to corroborate faculty bias that is often only represented with qualitative data. This is a significant addition to the discussion of reform in high