Yale Law School's Peter Schuck has an article in the American Lawyer on the lack of viewpoint diversity at elite law schools, why it matters, and what to do about it. Among other things, he argues that ethnic and gender diversity are no substitute for real diversity of opinion and perspective. Here are some excerpts:
Elite law schools cherish robust debate, iconoclasm, and arguing issues from all sides, right? Wrong. The dirty little (not-so) secret about these faculties-that they care much more about diversifying their skin colors, genders, and surnames than about diversifying their points of view-has finally come to the attention of the general public.Schuck does not believe there is an easy answer to this dilemma -- thought he knows that any legislative response would be a terrible idea. If there is to be more viewpoint diversity in legal academia, he argues, elite law schools must commit to changing from within.
Now that the truth is out, law school faculties are likely to come under increased pressure to surrender some of their hiring autonomy. But this pressure would be misguided. If these faculties know what is good for them, they will acknowledge the dearth of dissenting voices within them-and work earnestly to correct the problem from within.
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a teaching institution that constructs an ideologically one-sided faculty, whether liberal or conservative, seriously abdicates its pedagogical responsibilities. Professors have a sacred duty to their students and to each other to affirm-and also to exemplify-core academic and intellectual values. We should convey to our students an abiding respect, even awe, for the complexity of law in society, and we should exhibit the ideological humility that this complexity implies. Any professors worthy of the title have strong views, of course, but they should also have a keen sense that those views may be wrong, or based on incomplete evidence, or highly reductive. Even if we are utterly convinced of the correctness of our positions, we should teach as if we aren't-as if there are serious counterpositions to be entertained and explored, as if even the truth cannot be fully apprehended until it is challenged by the best arguments that can be marshaled against it. And although scrupulous teachers can sometimes challenge their own deepest convictions in class, most of us need competing points of view-on our own faculties, debated before our own students-to keep us intellectually honest and to enrich learning. It is all well and good for student groups like the Federalist Society to bring heterodox lecturers to campus, but these extracurricular speakers are no substitute for what should go on in class-and seldom does, I fear.
As Glenn would say, read the whole thing (especially if you are planning to post a comment).