As we say in Texas, no matter how flat you make a pancake, it always has two sides. While disagreements about ideological bias in higher education dominate headlines, what is often missing from the discussion is that both sides are actually joined together by a fundamental point of agreement: curriculum and pedagogy must adapt and respond to the needs of students and our democracy. While each side argues about who is teaching what, what is missing is a much-needed look at how to improve the process by which we make these adaptations.
Lately, university governing boards around the country have been considering the balance and diversity of intellectual scholarship in the institutions they oversee. Many of those stewarding our institutions are concerned that students are too often being taught what to think instead of how to think, particularly about current events and history.
These concerns about politicized agendas often resonate with the taxpayers who are footing the bill for our public institutions—and our elected officials are paying attention. In a 2018 Pew Research Center poll, 61 percent of Americans said they believe higher education in the U.S. is going in the wrong direction. Among those, 81 percent said one reason is that “colleges and universities are too concerned about protecting students from views they might find offensive.”