by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
John Hasnas writes for the Martin Center about the “diversity distortion.”
What accounts for the rapid proliferation of university departments devoted to the study of minority cultural identity?
Raising this question is not a disguised criticism of the existence of such departments. The cultural changes of the past four decades make African American, feminist, and LGBTQ studies legitimate and important fields of inquiry. The advent of such departments is a natural reaction to interesting new questions that need to be addressed to advance the university’s mission to seek truth and generate understanding. Whether the current programs are doing a good job of addressing these questions may be debated, but the study of cultural identity is a legitimate field of academic inquiry.
Nevertheless, in a time when academic resources are stretched thin and many traditional academic departments are facing retrenchment, it is reasonable to ask whether the continued expansion of these departments is justified. Is there something beyond their inherent academic value that is driving the growth of cultural studies programs at the expense of other departments and, perhaps, the overall health of the university?
The answer is yes. It is the contemporary university’s quest for a diverse faculty. …
… [T]o diversify their faculties, universities must create new positions that would appeal only to women or minority scholars or for which women and minority scholars are likely to be the most qualified candidates. The surest way to do this is to increase the number of positions in women’s studies, critical race theory, LGBTQ studies, and other cultural identity-based programs.