Why did most humanities faculty support Salaita’s appointment and most hard science faculty oppose it? Some have gone so far as to say that this is because academics in the sciences tend to be ‘more objective.’
Colleen Flaherty at Inside Higher Ed has the story:
Salaita case illustrates ‘two cultures’ of academe, many experts say
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign definitively told Steven Salaita this month that he was out of a job there. Debate about whether the university did the right thing in pulling his job offer weeks before the start of classes due to the tenor of his anti-Israel remarks on Twitter lives on.
In looking at the faculty support that’s emerged for Salaita and for the university, particularly for Chancellor Phyllis Wise, an interesting trend emerges: A majority of those who publicly support Salaita are in the humanities, while most of those who support Wise are scientists. So the trend raises an interesting question to add to the conversation: What role does discipline play in how one interprets the Salaita case and others like it?
A significant one, experts say. Many see the case as evidence of the enduring power of C.P. Snow’s “two cultures” thesis.
First, the evidence: Two weeks ago, on the day the board voted to officially reject Salaita’s tenured faculty appointment to the American Indian studies program, two open letters were sent to system leaders. One, published as an ad in the local News-Gazette, backed Wise for her “sense of duty, her measured judgment, and her principles of collegiality, inquiry and inclusiveness.” Beneath it were the names of approximately 400 faculty members. While some humanists and social scientists were on the list, the overwhelming majority were from the natural sciences, technology and engineering.
The other letter, delivered to the trustees, Wise, and Robert Easter, the system president, backed Salaita. It said the university had revoked his offer for words and actions that were not outside the faculty code of conduct, threatening academic freedom there. “Indeed, Salaita’s record of highly reputed scholarship and teaching is nowhere in dispute,” the letter said. “The [university’s] decision thus constitutes a dangerous attack on academic freedom which will exert a chilling effect on political speech throughout our campus.” While some of the 330 signatories were from science, technology, engineering and math, or, STEM, a clear majority were humanists or social scientists.
Salaita case illustrates 'two cultures' of academe, many experts say (Inside Higher Ed | News)