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  • Conservative Books Missing From Freshman Reading Programs

    YAF Study: Are Conservative Books Left Out of Academia?


    requiredreadingHERNDON, VA-Young America's Foundation (YAF) has discovered that conservative books are noticeably absent from the required reading programs for incoming college freshmen nationwide. YAF surveyed the top 50 schools as noted by Forbes, and of the schools that institute a freshman reading program, no conservative books were assigned to incoming students over the past three years.  The purpose of required reading, according to many of the schools implementing them, is to foster a sense of community among students through igniting university-wide discussions.  Not surprisingly, YAF found that many of the "required" books only offered left-wing perspectives on topics such as race, feminism, socialism, inequality, and wealth redistribution.

    College administrators will say that students receive a balanced education at their institutions, but what really balances the Left on campus? Today's schools routinely omit conservative perspectives from campus dialogue, and "required reading" programs underscore this bias.  Examples of the books being assigned to incoming freshmen include Class Matters by The New York Times, which advocates against free-market principles, and Chimamanda Nogzi Adichie's Americanah, a fictional story of a young Nigerian woman and man who immigrated to the United States. Throughout the book, the author focuses on race and criticizes everyone but the protagonists for their prejudices. 

    Young America's Foundation believes young people should be exposed to a true liberal education-one that includes both liberal and conservative ideas, but there appears to be no balance in these readings that are required by colleges and universities. From the moment students enroll in college through graduation day, they are exposed to liberal themes-and few, if any, will read a conservative book or heard from a conservative professor. 

    The following is a sample of that books today's college freshman are required to read. It is clear that colleges and universities seek to indoctrinate students through assigned reading from the moment they enroll-before they even step foot in their classrooms. 


    For further information or to request an interview, please email Ashley Pratte at


    *Top colleges and universities are determined by Forbes


    Executive Summary:

    Institutions of higher learning do not encourage or present a balanced education which is apparent when YAF examined the courses offered, those selected as commencement speakers, and now the required reading programs which are before freshmen even step foot on campus.

    Administrators say that students receive a balanced education, but when does that occur?  Past Young America's Foundation studies such as "The Dirty Dozen" show that course catalogues are full of liberal courses yet courses that present conservative ideas fairly are rare, and our annual "Commencement Speaker Survey" shows that liberal commencement speakers outnumber conservative ones often by a margin of 10-to-1.  There is a pattern in higher education that routinely omits conservative viewpoints.  It is important that students be exposed to both perspectives.

    Young America's Foundation believes young people should be exposed to a true liberal education-one that includes all ideas- but there is no balance in these required readings.  Young America's Foundation believes that students should also read books such as Free to Choose by Milton Friedman, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek, I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard, Chinese Girl in the Ghetto by Ying Ma, or Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin.


    This study is comprised of required readings for the Top 50 colleges and universities according to Forbes.  Young America's Foundation researched each of the colleges and examined their freshman required reading programs and compiled the data for the past three years.  After all the data was collected, each title was researched and looked at closely to determine the themes presented within the book. 



    A Sample of Liberal Required Readings


    1. Americanah by Chimamanda Nogzi Adichie (required at Duke University and Pomona College in 2014)

    This is a fictional story of a young Nigerian woman and man who immigrate to the United States.  Throughout the book, the author delves heavily into concepts of race.  Yet, at the same time, she criticizes everyone but the protagonists for their prejudices.

    "Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I'm Jamaican or I'm Ghanaian. America doesn't care." 


    1. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (required at Lafayette College in 2014)

    This book argues that humanity is causing a sixth mass extinction due to global warming and advocates environmental sustainability.

    "Meanwhile, an even stranger and more radical transformation is under way. Having discovered subterranean reserves of energy, humans begin to change the composition of the atmosphere." 


    1. Home  by Toni Morrison (required at UNC Chapel Hill 2013)

    The novel delves into the life of a man trying to find his way home in segregated America.  It is filled with many leftist themes including identity and post-traumatic stress associated with race.

    "Well, you know, doctors need to work on the dead poor so they can help the live rich."


    1. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide  by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (required at Wellesley College 2013 and Vanderbilt University 2012)

    This book describes the "injustice" that women from around the world experience and what you, as a reader, can do to stop it.  It discusses the need for liberal humanists to reach out to conservative evangelicals and join forces in embracing multicultural concepts.  This book is filled with feminist ideas and theories.

    "Sexism and misogyny. How else to explain why so many more witches were burned than wizards?"


    1. Eating Animals  by Jonathan Safran Foer (required at Duke University 2011)

    A book delving into the modern food industry, mass production, and vegetarian world.  This book also goes into some anti-free market concepts.

    "It shouldn't be the consumer's responsibility to figure out what's cruel and what's kind, what's environmentally destructive and what's sustainable. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don't need the option of buying children's toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofluorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don't need the option of buying factory-farmed animals." 


    1. Class Matters by The New York Times (required at Bryn Mawr College for 2011)

     The New York Times discusses class in America; in typical liberal fashion it advocates against free market principles by using shoddy economics and misguided facts.

    "So it appears that while it is easier for a few high achievers to scale the summits of wealth, for many others it has become harder to move up from one economic class to another. Americans are arguably more likely than they were thirty years ago to end up in the class into which they were born."


    1. The Tenth of December  by George Saunders (required at Colgate University for 2013 and suggested at Swarthmore)

     This book is particularly ominous in its consideration of class and power.  Class anxiety is pervasive in this book and the author conveys a hatred of wealth and rich people.

    "Do not really like rich people, as they make us poor people feel dopey and inadequate. Not that we are poor. I would say we are middle. We are very, very lucky. I know that. But still, it is not right that rich people make us middle people feel dopey and inadequate." 


    1. Acts of Faith  by Eboo Patel (required at Colgate University for 2011)

    A story of an American Muslim and his thoughts on radicalization, it also contains some anti-American culture themes.

    "It was in Islam that I found the clearest articulation of this inner struggle. The story goes like this: As a victorious Muslim army was celebrating its triumph in battle, the Prophet Muhammad told the men they had won only the "lesser jihad." Now, he said, they had to move on to the "greater jihad"-the jihad al-nafs, the struggle against their lower selves. The first time I read that, I felt as if the Prophet was speaking directly to me, as if he could see the thousands of times in my life that my lower self had won, as if he was personally returning Islam to my consciousness."


    1. The Life Before Us by Romain Gary (required at Cornell University for 2012)

    This is the story of a young boy who lives in a whorehouse and was birthed by his prostitute mother.  The story is about him supporting a lady who lives there when she is no longer able to do so herself.  The book is full of supporting characters that are transvestites, pimps, and witch doctors.

    "Seeing I was sad, Madame Rosa explained that family doesn't mean a thing and told me how some people tie their dogs to a tree and go off on vacation."


    1.  Beautiful Souls by Eyal Press (required by Brown University for 2013)

    This book seeks to demonstrate the "positive" aspects of bold acts carried out by radicals who seek to overthrow the system. 

    "Yet confronting evil tends to be seen differently when it is committed in our name - when the perpetrators are not Germans or Rwandans but Americans carrying out abuses at places such as the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a story that came to light after a reservist named Joseph Darby handed a CD full of incriminating photos to the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division in 2004, one year before President Bush honored Pau Rusesabagina. Darby's reward was to be called a traitor and to receive a string of death threats that prompted him to move out of his hometown."

    Click here for more information on our National Conservative Student Conference this summer!

    • Readers' Comments

    • Thank you very much for your hard work. This is so important. It needs to be done at the K-12 level as well. The infiltration of narrowly-focused liberal thinking and the marginalization of conservatism and free market principles is taking place at all grade levels. We are truly destroying ourselves from within.
      Posted by Sara Noble on 07/06/2014
    • Everybody should email their gov of their state telling of this study. Why should we be forced to pay taxes to support such colleges when the conservative side is not given? I read on study once that said 70% of the college professors are liberals. That is not a fair and balanced education. My email will be off to my gov here in Michigan.
      Posted by John Gleason on 07/06/2014
    • This is brilliant in its elegant simplicity. It virtually explodes the university claims that there is no leftist bias in the faculty. Frankly, every parent should be angered by this. Furthermore, there are obvious legal implications for publicly funded institutions of higher learning. Bottom Line: is taxpayer money as well as tuition being used for education or indoctrination? It appears the answer is obvious.
      Posted by Robert Warren on 07/06/2014
    • My daughter will be a junior this fall and we've begun preliminary college campus tours in an effort to minimize the choices when the choices need to be made. At two of the three we've been to (Hofstra in New York, Arcadia in Philadelphia, and Eastern University in Philadelphia), I've asked the question of liberal-leaning vs. conservative-leaning teaching. My daughter wants to study political science and our thinking at home is conservative so I do want her to have an opportunity to be exposed to liberal thinking too. However, I do not want her conservative values to not be taken seriously or invalidated by liberal classrooms. At Hofstra, I did not have an opportunity to ask my question. At Arcadia, I asked and received the administrative response that the professors must take the middle road with no further explanation. It was only at Eastern that I received an honest response which was that both sides of the argument are discussed so that a conservative can understand a liberal's viewpoint and a liberal can understand a conservative's viewpoint and ultimately, both sides have a more productive working environment. Eastern is a Christian university so I assume that it is more right thinking than left thinking, however, the admissions counselor who is also a graduate of Eastern was very articulate and sincere when answering my question and I do believe he understood my need to have an honest answer. If possible, I would like a list of the names of at least the East coast colleges that were on that list of 50 from where you did your research. This research is important, and I'll forward to our Governor Corbett in PA.
      Posted by Bonnie Loomis on 07/06/2014
    • What are the other 40 books on the list?
      Posted by Lisa on 07/06/2014
    • Is this really a valid form of research to be publishing and spreading around? And are you really promoting conservative values? Is rejecting the diversity of people in our country considered conservative ? Is rejecting clear scientific evidence pointing to drastic changes in our climate conservative? Is ignoring the continued segregation and race problems in America conservative? Is rejecting gender equality conservative? Is the questioning of the ingredients in our products conservative? Is the continuation of unequal and disadvantaged communities a conservative principle? Is the acceptance of class and wealth advantages in our "equal opportunity" society conservative? Is the rejection of religions other than Christianity conservative? Is the marginalization of people who are not male, white, Christian, or moral a conservative value? Is the suppression of the injustices in the military, government, or other corrupt power a conservative value? This study is biased; these books are meant to teach students to think in a different perspective, and consider societal problems that are not talked about in everyday settings and scenarios. These books teach people to think for themselves, regardless of supposed political affiliation. I lean conservative, yet I take much offense to this "research" article.
      Posted by Jose on 07/07/2014
    • Where is the complete list?
      Posted by Warren on 07/07/2014
    • Where's the actual study? Where's the list with all the Universities, their reading programs with all the books, and the researchers' criteria they used to label each book conservative or liberal? Where's the actual data and arguments for its interpretation supporting this conclusion?
      Posted by Thomas on 07/07/2014
      Posted by JOE on 07/07/2014
    • "Methodology: "This study is comprised of required readings for the Top 50 colleges and universities according to Forbes. Young America's Foundation researched each of the colleges and examined their freshman required reading programs and compiled the data for the past three years. After all the data was collected, each title was researched and looked at closely to determine the themes presented within the book." So... where is the part where you employed an objective metric to tell you how "conservative" a book was? Is it any wonder that you don't find conservative books when you can't even decide what one would look like?
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