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May 29, 2018

Which schools stopped hiring 2011-2018?

An interesting chart from Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern), though it was misleading to treat t14 and t20 as separate categories here--resource-rich schools like Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt and  USC, which were in the t20 category, did fairly regular hiring during this period, just like the t14 category.  But it's clear, and not surprising, that lower ranked schools, which no doubt faced more financial pressures due to the decline in applications, accounted for most of the hiring drop.  Many of those schools are now coming back into the market for new law teachers.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 29, 2018 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

May 28, 2018

Anti-university “free speech” legislation will divert education funds to demagogues and facilitate monitoring, intimidation, and harassment of academic communities (Michael Simkovic)

Part I: After demagogues hijack higher education funding and disrupt learning and research, Berkeley responds 

In the wake of disruptions surrounding the invitation to campus of provocative right wing speakers, the University of California at Berkeley recently released the Report of the Chancellor’s Commission on Free Speech. The members of the commission include the Chief of Police and the Law School Dean and constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky.[1]

The report notes that U.C. Berkeley “spent nearly $4 million—during a time of severe fiscal duress—on security costs for [disruptive speeches by far-right provocateurs in] September 2017 alone. . . . This is not sustainable [given Berkeley’s] $150+ million deficit.”

At current tuition prices, $4 million is the equivalent of more than 280 1-year full-tuition scholarships (or 70 four-year bachelor’s degrees). Given the tone and substance of the talks, it seems unlikely that California taxpayers or the Berkeley community got good value for their money. For example, that money could have been used to train engineers, scientists, and other educated professionals. The report included several sensible recommendations to try to contain costs and limit disruptions.

Unfortunately, many of these recommendations would be difficult—perhaps impossible—to implement if legislation backed by the Koch family, the Goldwater Institute, and some law professors goes into effect. (More on this in Part II below).

The report notes that a single speech by right wing culture-warrior Ben Shapiro cost U.C. Berkeley and California taxpayers $600,000 in security costs.[2]

Mr. Shapiro is known for comparing “debate” to a “bloodsport.” In “How to Debate a Leftist and Destroy Them,” Shapiro advises conservatives to “Hit first. Hit hard. Hit where it counts . . . convince [the audience] that your opposition is a liar and a hater.” Shapiro advises being even more aggressive when dealing with a liberal family member at family gatherings such as Thanksgiving. Shapiro advises conservatives to call a family member who does not share conservative political views a “jackass,” “ridiculous,” “irrational,” “buffoon,” “loser,” “fascist,” and a would-be baby-killer (for supporting abortion rights).  Shaprio’s speech at Berkeley was reportedly similarly “strong on insults . . . and light on [substance].”[3]

The Commission was even less impressed with other speakers:

“Many Commission members are skeptical of [Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter]’s commitment to anything other than the pursuit of wealth and fame through the instigation of anger, fear, and vengefulness in their hard-right constituency. Speech of this kind is hard to defend, especially in light of the acute distress it caused (and was intended to cause) to staff and students, many of whom felt threatened and targeted by the speakers and by the outside groups financing their appearances.”

The Commission concluded that excessive financial costs were imposed on U.C. Berkeley and the taxpayers of California by “very small groups of students working closely with outside organizations” as “part of a coordinated campaign to organize appearances on American campuses likely to incite a violent reaction, in order to advance a facile narrative that universities are not tolerant of conservative speech.”

This is consistent with my own findings about conservative provocateurs’ efforts on campus, although I focused on professors serving as speakers rather than the student groups that invited them.[4]

The Commission suggested that if the citizens of California are unwilling to pay higher taxes to sponsor events that enrich the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos, then U.C. Berkeley should consider capping the amount it will spend on security for speakers:[5]

“[T]he campus should not have to expend scarce resources to protect celebrity provocateurs seeking to promote their brand (and, in some cases, to cast aspersions on higher education) when so many essential needs go unfunded or underfunded.”

The report also recommends centralizing event planning, limiting disruptive events to locations where individuals who would rather focus on their studies or their work can more easily avoid being affected by them, and encouraging “constructive and thoughtful debate between passionate advocates for opposing points of view” on campus including conservatives, rather than “shock jock performance art.”

However, many of the Commission’s perfectly sensible recommendations would be outlawed by model legislation pushed by the Koch-funded Goldwater Institute and some allied law professors.[6]


Part II:  Anti-university “free speech” legislation will divert funds to demagogues and will facilitate monitoring, intimidation, and harassment of academic communities

The so-called “Campus Free Speech Act” prohibits universities from charging more for security for events that are likely to incite violence and that lack substance.[7] The Goldwater legislation requires universities to host any speaker, regardless of intellectual rigor or academic merit (even if quality standards are applied in a non-partisan manner), as long as a single student, student group, or faculty member has invited the speaker.[8] It denies universities control over which space is made available to which speakers.[9]  The Goldwater Legislation places burdens on public universities that its most ardent supporters would never place on businesses which own other platforms for speech such as newspapers or venues for conferences such as hotels.[10] There is a difference between protecting the academic freedom of highly-trained and carefully vetted faculty and transforming universities into dumping grounds for outside speakers of low-quality and high-cost.[11]

While universities would be denied editorial discretion, student groups could be as discriminatory or exclusionary as they please without losing any privileges.[12] Thus, a neo-Nazi student group could refuse to admit blacks, Jews, gays, Catholics, liberals, moderates, or conservatives who don’t subscribe to White Supremacy—or even those who do but refuse to march around wearing Swastikas—without losing any privileges, such as the right to bring speakers or host a rally on campus.

This is not idle theorizing—neo-Nazi groups see university campuses as fertile recruiting grounds, and have actively used the language of free-speech and conservative victimization as a recruiting tool.[13] (See also here, here, and here). The lesson of Virginia Tech, Charlottesville, and the recent mass shooting in Norway is that hate speech and anti-social behavior, not taken seriously, can turn into actual violence.

Intimidation through fear of violence on campus may be what backers of the Goldwater Legislation intend.

An author of the Goldwater legislation, James Manley, has successfully sued to prevent state universities from protecting public safety by banning deadly weapons from campus. Another leading advocate of the legislation, ULCA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, supports the presence of deadly weapons on campus and in schools,[14] opposes limits on white supremacist rallies that could lead to violence, and opposes university efforts to remove individuals who threaten violence.[15]

Under the Goldwater legislation, members of the university community who protest against speakers, or who even dare to ask pointed questions, could be subjected to severe penalties, including suspension, expulsion[16] or legal liability.[17] “Repeat offenders” (i.e., protestors, hecklers or questioners) would be punished with a minimum 1-year suspension, or an expulsion.[18] Universities would be required to scare entering freshman with these severe sanctions through mandatory training sessions.[19] (These provisions risks undermining free expression, which includes not only the rights of invited speakers, but also those of listeners to engage and question). Universities can also exclude non-violent, non-disruptive individuals who are not “invited” by a speaker’s sponsors.[20]

Members of the university community would be monitored and reported on to government officials by a politically appointed group with the Orwellian title, the “Committee on Free Expression.”[21] Political appointees would be authorized to devise other ways of controlling expression on campus to further the “purposes and polices” of the legislation.[22] Critics have pointed out that although the Goldwater legislation is facially neutral, it is structured to benefit conservatives and hurt liberals. Goldwater itself has implied as much.[23]

The Goldwater legislation would limit the definition of threats, intimidation, and harassment under university codes of conduct.[24] This narrow definition of harassment could increase incidents of violence and intimidation on campus by depriving universities of the ability to prevent danger at an early stage—an ability enjoyed by virtually all private businesses. It could also facilitate video surveillance and public humiliation of university employees for partisan gain—a tactic advocated by one of the leading supporters of the Goldwater legislation, UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh.[25]

The Goldwater bill appears to be designed to encourage frivolous lawsuits against universities[26] and members of university communities. Plaintiffs who cannot prove any actual damages are entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.[27] There is no provision for successful defendants to recover their costs and fees from plaintiffs. When private litigants are unwilling to step forward, public money could be used to fund lawsuits against universities.[28] Intentionally vague language and the threat of litigation could have a chilling effect.

There will inevitably be minor annoyances on campus when a few students (or even faculty or staff) behave inappropriately. But these incidents do not constitute a “crisis.” They should be dealt with by university communities internally, not through external mandates. One does not declare Martial law over a few mosquitos.

The Goldwater-Koch legislation is profoundly hostile to the vision of universities as special institutions—places of learning, of the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of society, of refinement and culture. Communities that nurture and guide students under their care during their formative years and help students avoid pitfalls and predatory influences. Place where substantive ideas and information can be pursued without fear of political reprisals or financial pressures from donors. Places that help civilize the world instead of simply reflecting it.

Anyone with an affinity for this vision of universities should actively and unequivocally oppose the Goldwater legislation and related proposals to strip universities of autonomy and resources.

[1] Other members include faculty leaders, student leaders, and senior administrators.

[2] According to PBS, Mr. Shaprio’s speaking fee, paid by Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), was $15,000, plus accommodations. By absorbing $600,000 in security costs, California taxpayers paid over 97 percent of the cost of Shapiro’s talk, massively subsidizing speech by YAF’s out-of-state billionaire donors (who clearly can afford to pay for security).

[3] Although Shapiro presented some ostensibly factual claims, he did not engage with countervailing evidence. Nathan Robinson explained “he’s clearly not actually very interested in Facts at all . . . Nobody can trust him because . . . he selects only the parts of reality that please him. . . At every turn, Shapiro shows that he simply wants to make his questioners look foolish, rather than present the facts fairly. . . [Shapiro only seems smart because he] is a very confident person who speaks quickly [and] uses a few effective . . . tricks [like asking confusing questions and then interrupting before the other person can answer] . . . Ben Shapiro is lying to his audience, by telling them that he is just a person concerned with the Truth, when the only thing he actually cares about is destroying the left.”

Mr. Shaprio’s website, the Daily Wire, is the original source for a substantial amount of false news reports according to Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, and scientific experts on climate change.

[4] The Commission recommends “Counterprogramming During Disruptive Events,” as did I. The Commission noted that “no student should be evaluated more harshly or treated with less respect due to his or her political outlook,” including conservative students, as did I.

[5] A per-event cap may seem better tailored than a per semester cap to limiting events that are disproportionately expensive relative to the educational benefits they provide, with speakers or their hosts expected to make up the difference above the cap. The Commission was divided as to whether caps on spending would be desirable or constitutional.

[6] Goldwater’s anti-university legislation is supported by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. (A recording of the YAF event linked above is not available; for recordings from a tamer event see here and here). Professor Volokh rejects any general principle that would grant state universities independence from partisan political interference. Volokh maintains that universities and taxpayers are obligated to fund the costs of security for speakers who are likely to incite violence, even when universities and communities lack resources to provide for the basic needs of their students. Professor Volokh has been a been a leading figure in a Koch-network-funded campaign to portray universities as hostile to conservative speech, and to thereby justify greater partisan political interference with the operation of universities. Both Institute for Humane Studies—which has funded and organized several of Volokh’s talks on conservative victimization on campus—and The Reason Foundation—whose magazine hosts Volokh’s blog—are funded by the Koch family and affiliated groups such as donor-advised funds. Like Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter, Volokh has spoken on campus at the invitation of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), a well-funded national group that uses a network of local campus chapters to host controversial speakers across the country. (While Professor Volokh’s speeches and writings can be more substantive than those of Mr. Shapiro or Ms. Coulter, Volokh has also sought to stoke conservatives’ sense of victimization and to encourage them to “fight back” and inflict “libertarian-approved-pain” on their “enemies” through the use of video surveillance and public humiliation. Volokh sits on the advisory board of an organization similar to YAF, Students for Liberty. Professor Volokh has worked closely with Koch-affiliated groups including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the Center for Competitive Politics/Institute for Free Speech, and the Heartland Institute.

[7] Section 1(G) provides that “the Institution shall make all reasonable efforts and make available all reasonable resources to ensure the safety of invited speakers. An institution shall not charge security fees based on the content of the inviter’s speech or the content of the speech of invited speakers.”

[8] Section 1(F) provides that “the campuses of the institution are open to any speaker whom students, student groups, or members of the faculty have invited.” Section 1(E) provides that “The public areas of campuses of the institution are traditional public forums, open on the same terms to any speaker.” Section 5 sharply restricts the ability of universities to reject speakers. To do so, the university must “demonstrate . . . that the restriction is: (1) Is necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest; (2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest; (3) Leaves open ample other opportunities to engage in the expressive conduct; and (4) Provides for spontaneous assembly and distribution of literature.”

[9] Section 1(E) provides that “The public areas of campuses of the institution are traditional public forums, open on the same terms to any speaker.” See also Section 1(L). Section 1(C) might walk this back a little bit, although any university that tries to rely on 1(C)’s vague language would be inviting costly litigation under Section 5.

[10] Existing case law suggests that the first amendment constrains public universities. But constitutional law can evolve and mandates can change if not locked in place by statute. It is not clear that the constitution should constrain universities choice of outside speakers more than media companies or think tanks or other providers of platforms for speech or production of information. Many non-university platforms have a much larger audience and their owners have far more concentrated power than universities.

[11] Such speakers can reach a much larger audience through the Internet, TV, radio, or trade press books. Speaking on campus enables a low quality outside speaker to wrap himself in implicit—and unearned—academic credibility. Just as an appearance on campus benefits low-quality speakers, it dilutes the hosting university’s reputation for quality.

[12] Under Section 1(L), a student group would not lose any privileges if it exclude from membership or leadership provisions individuals who do not share its founders political or religious beliefs, do not “comply with [the student organizations] standards of conduct,” or do not “further the organization’s mission or purpose, as defined by the student organization.” Section 1(B) states that “it is not the proper role of the institution to shield individuals from speech . . . they find . . . deeply offensive.”

[13] As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a former neo-Nazi, Christian Picciolini, explained that “universities [have] become a really good recruiting ground for [right-wing extremists] because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. There are young people who are developing new communities. They’re figuring out who they are. They’re developing new views on life. It’s the first time away from home. There are a lot of marginalized kids on college campuses looking for something to believe in. Extremists see it as a place to be, where people are developing new ideas, and they want to be the first ones to seed those ideas.”

(His explanation is strikingly similar to language used by Johan Norberg, a leading libertarian strategist who sees access to young and impressionable people as essential to the success of a radical libertarian movement).

Picciolini continues: “[White Supremacy] has gotten political and more academic, and they’re able to get away with it on college campuses. One, they don’t look like we used to. Two, the language they use is more acceptable and can be considered a debate instead of just hate speech. So they’ve gotten good at toeing the line but not going over it. That’s publicly. In private, they’re using words like "Jew" and the N-word and calling people faggots. . . what we’re seeing now is kind of a cleaned-up, better-marketed version of what we were. Ideologically it’s the same. . . .

They [come] in looking for violence, and that allows them to use that as a victim narrative for themselves and say, ‘You see, we were out here just marching for free speech,’ which is what they always claim because it’s hard to argue with that. They use that intentionally, because they know people are so angry at them that they will attack.” More mainstream conservative groups have used similar tactics.

[14] UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh has likewise worked with Koch-funded groups to combat safety limits on assault weapons (see also here) and supports the presence of deadly weapons in schools and on campus.

[15] Volokh filed an amicus to thwart a university form removing from campus a potentially violent male nursing student who described a classmate as a “stupid bitch,” discussed stabbing her in the chest with a pencil (“Doesnt anyone know or have heard of mechanical pencils. Im going to take this electric pencil sharpener in this class and give someone a hemopneumothorax 3 with it before to long.”), and noted there was “[n]ot enough whiskey to control [his] anger” and that he “might need some anger management.” The university maintained that discussing stabbing someone in the chest is not consistent with medical ethics. Volokh acknowledges that severe, “true threats” of violence are punishable, but seems to wants an extremely high threshold for proof of a “true threat” before authorities can act to protect potential victims.

Professor Volokh also filed an amicus brief on behalf of a student with military training who harassed a professor with numerous emails the court described as “rants . . . laced with profanity and invective,” containing “hostile, angry . . . arguably discriminatory comments. . . . about blacks, Muslims, [and] liberal[s].” The student included a threat to “kick [the Professor’s] ass” because he claimed the professor loved terrorists, was a “traitor,” and was the “lowest form of life on this planet.” The professor felt sufficiently frightened to contact the police.

[16] Section 1(H) provides that “The Board of Trustees of the state university system shall develop and adopt a policy on free expression that . . . shall include a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others” including “suspension” or “expulsion.”

[17] Section 5(B) provides that “persons may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin any violation of this section or to recover reasonable court costs and reasonable attorney fees . . .[including]: (1) The attorney general [or](2) A person whose expressive rights are violated by a violation of this section. . . .

(C) In an action brought under subsection B of this section, if the court finds that a violation of this section occurred, the court shall award the aggrieved person injunctive relief for the violation and shall award reasonable court costs and reasonable attorney fees. The court shall also award damages of $1,000 or actual damages, whichever is higher. . . . (E) The state waives sovereign immunity and consents to suit in state and federal court for lawsuits arising out of this act. A public institution of higher education that violates this act is not immune from suit or liability for the violation.”

[18] Section (1)(J) provides that “Any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year, or expelled.”

[19] Section 3 provides that “State institutions of higher education shall include in freshman orientation programs a section describing to all students the policies and regulations regarding free expression consistent with this act.”

[20] Section 1(G) provides that “The Institution may restrict the use of its non-public facilities to invited individuals,” apparently meaning individuals invited by a student group, an individual student, or an individual faculty member.

[21] Section 2.

[22] Section 4.

[23] Goldwater notes that versions of its proposal have already been enacted in Wisconsin—where Republicans effectively eliminated tenure protections for professors—and in North Carolina, where Republican political appointees shuttered a law school center dedicated to studying poverty (see also here) and crippled the Civil Rights Center (here and here).

To promote its legislation, the Goldwater Institute specifically paid for Google advertising tied to search keywords “Josh Blackman” and “CUNY”, a reference to a conservative speaker whose talk was delayed for a few minutes by student protestors.

[24] See Section 4(C), (D), (E), and (F). Harassment by one student of another student would only count as harassment if it were based on actual or perceived membership in a protected class. Thus, harassing students because of their political views or (in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation) would not be actionable harassment. Harassment would also have to be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively deprives the victim of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the university”—a very difficult standard to establish. Universities that try to encourage decent, humane and civilized behavior could face civil liability.

Harassment of a professor or administrator would be even harder to establish. Such harassment would be limited to “statements meant by the speaker to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.” Thus an individual threatening violence could claim that he did not actually intend to threaten a particular individual or group even if his words or actions were perceived as threatening. An advocate of violence could also claim that he was advocating changes to the legal system that would make violent actions lawful, and therefore was not advocating unlawful violence. Disruptions to university operations could only count as harassment if they were “unlawful” (i.e., prohibited by a state or federal legislature, as opposed to university policies). Invasions of privacy or breaches of confidentiality would not constitute harassment unless it could be proved that such breaches were “unjustifiable” and “not involving a matter of public concern.” No distinction is made between private and public persons. Thus universities could not readily prevent students from recording professors or administrators without their consent or maintaining “watchlists” of professors they find politically objectionable, even if inclusion on such watchlists results in death threats against university personnel.

Universities could face substantial legal risks in efforts to protect their students and personnel from danger and abuse until after violence has occurred and it is too late.

[25] See supra note 5. Professor Volokh has filed an amicus brief supporting a conservative activist who used video surveillance to harass liberal university employees. Volokh has repeatedly advocated the use of video surveillance and public shaming, even after a court ruled that it could constitute harassment and intimidation. See also supra note 13. Professor Volokh’s briefs were filed in partnership with groups such as the Cato Institute and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which have extensive ties to the Koch family and its philanthropic network.

[26] Section 5(E) provides that “The state waives sovereign immunity and consents to suit in state and federal court for lawsuits arising out of this act. A public institution of higher education that violates this act is not immune from suit or liability for the violation.”

[27] Section 5(C) provides that “if the court finds that a violation of this section occurred, the court shall award the aggrieved person injunctive relief for the violation and shall award reasonable court costs and reasonable attorney fees. The court shall also award damages of $1,000 or actual damages, whichever is higher. . . .”

[28] Section 5(B) provides that “persons may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin any violation of this section or to recover reasonable court costs and reasonable attorney fees . . .[including]: (1) The attorney general [or](2) A person whose expressive rights are violated by a violation of this section. . . .”

UPDATE 5/30/2018: Mike Hilzik at the Los Angeles Times has covered the Goldwater Legislation controversy.  

Mike Hilzik, How a right-wing group's proposed 'free speech' law aims to undermine free speech on campus, Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2018.

Related Coverage:

Posted by Michael Simkovic on May 28, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice, Television, Weblogs | Permalink

May 26, 2018

Extremely conservative Stanford graduate complains that there aren’t enough extreme conservatives on campus (Michael Simkovic)

Few would consider Stanford University left-wing.

Stanford University hosts the controversial, conservative Hoover Institution.[1] Stanford has raised more than $40 million from conservative donors. Stanford is a major military contractor.  Stanford’s last acting president (and long-time provost) argued for affirmative action in hiring in favor of conservative faculty, deploying barely coded, neo-McCarthyist phrases like “the threat from within” to describe liberals on campus.  One very prominent Hoover Institution faculty member took the suggestion to heart, asking students affiliated with the College Republicans and Turning Point USA (which maintains "watchlists" of liberal faculty) to help him dig up dirt on a 20 year old Stanford student who the Professor thought was too liberal.  (The Professor wanted help "grinding [leftists] down" and wished to "intimidate them.")  (See also here, here, here, and here).[2] 

Some conservatives want more.

A recent Stanford law graduate and self-described “hard man,” Martin J. Salvucci, writing in the National Review, recently compared Stanford to Czechoslovakia under Soviet domination. Czechoslovakia was invaded by 650,000 heavily armed soldiers from the Soviet Union and other Warsaw pact states in 1968 when Czechoslovakia sought to become Social Democratic rather than Communist (i.e., leftist, but not authoritarian).

The Stanford graduate—who recently worked at Skadden and Klee Tuchin—explains that from his perspective, attending Stanford entailed a level of suffering just like living in a totalitarian satellite state, except that he has “nicer stuff.”

The problem, apparently, is that there are not enough committed right wing ideologues on campus:

"An almost unspoken agreement seems to exist among many students that all of us will soon be fabulously successful, so long as everyone remains a “team player” and nobody rocks the boat too earnestly. Political, moral, and religious convictions are, for the most part, accessories best deployed for instrumental purposes, rather than values to be espoused or explored for their own sake."

If this description is accurate, then it sounds like Stanford law students are well prepared for the restraint and decorum that will be expected of them at the elite law firms, banks, and corporations where many of them aspire to work.

The recent graduate also complains that the Dean of Stanford, M. Elizabeth Magill, has not endorsed his view that there should be an increase in official efforts to promote conservative views on campus.  Because of this, he accuses her of being a “gutless bureaucrat.”

Mr. Salvucci’s views highlight that ideology is a matter of perspective. For those who are sufficiently extreme, even a conservative, corporate institution in Silicon Valley, like Stanford, can seem as oppressive as life under Soviet rule.

Given the timing of Mr. Salvucci’s post—after graduation but before admission to the bar—Mr. Salvucci may be attempting to set up a test case to challenge California’s Bar’s character and fitness requirement, which mandates “fairness . . . and respect . . .”

I doubt that the bar will take the bait.

But Mr. Salvucci’s classmates and colleagues may enjoy ribbing him about this for years to come.


[1] Hoover is a think tank which selects and funds its research fellows based on their ideology and political experience. This is routine in the think tank world, but is widely condemned within academic institutions, which are supposed to select scholars based solely on the merits, regardless of politics.

[2] The Stanford professor rationalizes these activities by arguing that he was concerned about efforts to schedule counter-programming to compete with controversial political scientist Charles Murray's talk, which resulted in the talk being lightly attended.  He goes on to argue that he was defending "free speech"--which to him apparently means shielding conservative speakers from competition for students' attention.

UPDATED 7/2/2018 to include Hoover faculty member Niall Ferguson's efforts to dig up opposition research on liberal students.

Posted by Michael Simkovic on May 26, 2018 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Humor, Legal Profession, Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice, Weblogs | Permalink

May 25, 2018

Berkeley's Angela Onwuachi-Willig named Dean at BU

The Boston University press release is here.  A big catch for BU!

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 25, 2018 in Faculty News | Permalink

May 24, 2018

Skeptical academics and journalists reject Koch-Brothers-backed claims of "free speech crisis" on campus (Michael Simkovic)

Following up on my previous post, 

A well-organized campaign to bait, discredit, and take over universities is exploiting students and manipulating the public

"The purpose of media exaggeration of incidents at universities appears to be to discredit universities in the eyes of conservatives, libertarians, and moderates.  The anti-university campaign is working. . . . Republican resentment toward universities is evident at the national level.  Recent legislation increased taxes on universities while leaving other 501(c)(3) educational organizations such as think tanks unscathed.  

The anti-university campaign appears to be supported by a network of organizations funded by wealthy conservatives and libertarians including the Koch Brothers. [At Koch-network funded events for conservative and libertarian professors and graduate students across the country] UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, encouraged attendees to push the envelope in expressing controversial conservative and libertarian views on campus, draw the ire of their university administrations and progressive students, and document the incidents for him so that he could publicize them . . . .  Volokh has publicly advocated video surveillance of hecklers (“never interrupt the enemy when he is making a mistake … but always videotape him”) and using internet publicity to inflict “libertarian-approved-pain [on] university administrators.”  Volokh also advocated suing universities.  . . .

The Koch Brothers’ funded Goldwater Institute, seized on the non-event at CUNY to push legislation to turn state universities into passive distribution channels for propaganda, expel protestors (and perhaps people who simply ask pointed questions), centralize control in the hands of political appointees, strip financial resources, encourage frivolous lawsuits, and monitor and intimidate university officials, professors, and students.  . . . Versions of Goldwater’s proposal have already been enacted in Wisconsin—where Republicans effectively eliminated tenure protections for professors at the state university—and in North Carolina, where Republican political appointees shuttered a law school center dedicated to studying poverty (see also here) and crippled the Civil Rights Center (here and here)." 

Erwin Chemerinsky and co-authors of the Report of the Chancellor’s Commission on Free Speech at U.C. Berkely wrote:

U.C. Berkeley “spent nearly $4 million—during a time of severe fiscal duress—on security costs for [disruptive speeches by far-right provocateurs in] September 2017 alone. . . . This is not sustainable [given Berkeley’s] $150+ million deficit. . .

Many Commission members are skeptical of [Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter]’s commitment to anything other than the pursuit of wealth and fame through the instigation of anger, fear, and vengefulness in their hard-right constituency. Speech of this kind is hard to defend, especially in light of the acute distress it caused (and was intended to cause) to staff and students, many of whom felt threatened and targeted by the speakers and by the outside groups financing their appearances.”

[Excessive financial costs were imposed on U.C. Berkeley and the taxpayers of California] by “very small groups of students working closely with outside organizations” as “part of a coordinated campaign to organize appearances on American campuses likely to incite a violent reaction, in order to advance a facile narrative that universities are not tolerant of conservative speech.” 

Aaron Hanlon wrote:

Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter

"Rejecting campus speakers is not an assault on free speech. Rather, like so many other decisions made every day by college students, teachers, and administrators, it’s a value judgment.  

[Education] has always meant deciding what people needed to know, but also what they don’t need to know—or at least which knowledge and skills deserved priority in one’s formal education.

Though the knowledge and skills we deem essential have changed over the years, the practice of curating and prioritizing them is still crucial to the mission of a classically liberal education. No-platforming may look like censorship from certain angles, but from others it’s a consequence of a challenging, never-ending process occurring at virtually all levels of the university: deciding what educational material to present to our students and what to leave out. In this sense, de-platforming isn’t censorship; it’s a product of free expression and the foundational aims of a classically liberal education.

We should think about campus speakers less in terms of the so-called marketplace and more in the terms that guide other kinds of educational programming on campus. Inviting quality speakers to share expertise and experience is an important part of the educational mission. Just as scholars routinely disagree about which material belongs on the syllabus, administrators, faculty, and students can understandably and productively disagree over what makes a quality speaker."

Are liberal college students creating a free speech crisis? Not according to data.

"There will always be anecdotal examples of overzealous young people, but conservative hysteria of campus activism is unwarranted. . . . 

According to a General Social Survey (GSS) dataset, “young people aged 18-34 are the most tolerant of potentially offensive speech and trending upward,” meaning not only that young people are already the most tolerant of offensive speech, but that they’re getting more tolerant. . . .  Sachs also breaks down a recent Knight Foundation study looking specifically at free expression on campus, and finds that college students are more likely than U.S. adults in general to support an open environment for free expression . . . evidence . . . shows going to college actually makes people more tolerant of offensive or opposing views.

Meanwhile, the “disinvitation database” created by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) . . . tracks the attempts of students to disinvite or prevent campus speakers. The database contains just 35 disinvitation attempts in 2017, down from 43 in 2016. At this point in 2018, there have been just five attempts, one of which was spearheaded by a conservative campus group. As Sachs rightly points out, in a country with roughly 4,700 colleges and universities, disinvitation attempts — let alone successful disinvitation attempts — remain quite rare.
The only way it’s possible to see left-wing college students as a group whose power rivals that of the presidency or the billionaire donor class is by embracing the cartoon image of lefty students as little authoritarians."

Political Correctness Has Run Amok — on the Right

 "[O]ne of the most troubling developments has been the persecution of left-wing faculty members whose speech has offended right-wing PC sensibilities. By this point, a long list of professors — including Johnny Eric Williams, at Trinity College in Connecticut; Dana Cloud, at Syracuse University; and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, at Princeton University — have experienced harassment, threats, and intimidation, and in some cases penalties from their own institutions for such speech. Some, like Lisa Durden, of Essex County College, have been outright fired. Many of these persecuted faculty members are women, people of color, or adjuncts who are more vulnerable to institutional power (Durden is all three).

We’ve been operating for too long with a double standard when it comes to political correctness. We’re quick to diminish left-wing concerns as fragile students taking offense, or to frame worries about campus safety in the face of incendiary speech as PC censorship when the alleged censors are from the left.

But when conservatives limit left-leaning speech, we’re spared the handwringing about campus echo chambers, "crybully" students, and the end of free expression.

Take a recent incident at Liberty University. An evangelical pastor who was critical of President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support for the Trump administration was removed from campus and threatened with arrest if he returned. When Falwell was asked about the situation, he replied, "If we allowed him to come on campus and protest uninvited, then the next group that comes in might be a violent group, and we’ve seen recently what that can lead to," alluding to violent white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.

That justification is barely distinguishable from how a cautious university administrator might explain removal of a controversial right-wing speaker."

What Stunts Like Milo Yiannopoulos’s ‘Free Speech Week’ Cost

"'Free speech on campus' is not resource-neutral.

Indeed, in an effort to make sure Free Speech Week could go on, Janet Napolitano, the president of University of California, even offered to chip in at least $300,000 to help with security. . . . [S]ecurity concerns about Mr. Yiannopoulos’s event resulted in the postponement of a previously scheduled talk by Anna Tsing, a leading anthropologist. I doubt Ms. Tsing’s anthropology lecture would have cost Berkeley and the University of California system anywhere near $1 million. And I suspect that if Ms. Tsing were sharing the campus with a conservative like Yuval Levin or Walter Williams on the same day, neither speech would have to be canceled. Which is why spending seven figures’ worth of student fees and taxpayer money to host Mr. Yiannopoulos is less about defending free speech than it is about supporting provocation for its own sake.

Universities have a duty to keep campuses safe, not in the service of paternalism, but in the service of providing a suitable learning environment for students.  [E]scalation of security costs isn’t a response to conservative thought. It is the only way schools can respond to a deliberate right-wing strategy, driven by outside groups, to inflict disruptive and deliberately offensive speakers on campuses, and thus bait the left into outrage. The audience for right-wing speakers like Mr. Yiannopoulos is not college students themselves, but rather the culture warriors on either side of the aisle who respond to seeing campus communities in distress."


"How does one uphold free-speech principles and also counter the worldwide surge, from Charlottesville to Warsaw, in public displays by white supremacists? It's an increasingly relevant one, too. White-supremacist propaganda at colleges, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), increased by 258 percent between the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2017 . . .While many European countries enacted hate-speech laws post–World War II, America is unique in that it did not. . . .

The new media-savvy messengers of white-supremacist ideology have been remarkably effective in hustling euphemisms into the lexicon, particularly in mainstream conservative discourse. In discussing Donald Trump's dog whistles to white supremacists, Picciolini surprised Megyn Kelly on Today when he told her that "globalism" and "liberal media"—terms she'd used at Fox News—were massaged versionss of "the global Jewish conspiracy" and "the Jewish media." One of the newer additions is " cultural Marxism," a term with a convoluted backstory tinged with anti-Semitism that is used by the radical right, including neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer and Oslo mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people as publicity for his manifesto, which bemoaned the "rise of cultural Marxism/multiculturalism in the West." . . .

There is a magnitude of difference between protecting an individual's legal right to free speech and taking the further step of uncritically promoting white-supremacist propaganda in mainstream platforms. These are dog whistles made into megaphones. Even free-speech enthusiasts, like the Pyles, don't find speakers like Yiannopoulos to be worthy of an invite. "College campuses should have standards about who they should invite. I don't think Milo has [anything of value to say],""  

Kamala Kelkar wrote:

Inside the ‘free speech’ debate that rocked a Wisconsin campus, with ripples across the country

"Since the 2016 presidential election, clashes on college campuses spurred by extremist speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer have [enabled] Republican legislators in more than a dozen states to introduce bills to punish hecklers. Wisconsin supported the strictest one, requiring the suspension or expulsion of anyone who “materially or substantially disrupts free expression of others.” While conservative students say it’s eased pressure from classmates and teachers to hide their views, progressive campus activists say they fear criminalization for challenging the overbearing power of the right and its financial backers.

“There’s a myth, that, you know, the liberal viewpoint is the majority viewpoint, and that conservatives are minority,” said Douglas McLeod, a professor in journalism at the UW Madison campus. “[Conservative] viewpoints are essentially predominant in power right now, whether you look at national government or the local government.”"

Citizens United v. FEC. It essentially established that money is a form of speech and that corporations and nonprofits can spend however much they want in political contributions. Rob Robinson, the longstanding president of Young Americans for Freedom, who made $866,633 in 2016, is also a director of Citizens United, a nonprofit that espouses conservative values."

Jeffrey Adam Sachs wrote:

There is no campus free speech crisis: The right’s new moral panic is largely imaginary

"There’s no data to suggest younger people are more censorious, and most attacks on speech come from the right."

UPDATE 5/30/2018: Mike Hilzik at the Los Angeles Times has covered the Goldwater Legislation controversy.  

Mike Hilzik, How a right-wing group's proposed 'free speech' law aims to undermine free speech on campus, Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2018.

"The Goldwater model bill would give [speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter] open access to any campus, at the expense of the university . . . (As the Berkeley committee observed, the $4 million the university spent for security for just three events in 2017, including the Shapiro and Yiannopoulos appearances, came out of a budget better spent on actual educational functions.)

That’s not a formula for open discussion, but for wanton interference in the purpose of the university. Decisions by university officials, faculty members and legitimate student organizations aren’t flawless, but would you really prefer that the judgments of state legislators take precedence? The principle upheld by the model bill is that of a wolf in sheep’s clothing."

UPDATE 6/2/2108: Zack Beauchamp at Vox discusses efforts by a Conservative Professor at Stanford to use university resources to collect  "opposition research" to intimidate a liberal student in the name of "free speech":

Zack Beauchamp, A conservative Stanford professor plotted to dig up dirt on a liberal student, Vox, June 1, 2018

"Niall Ferguson’s leaked emails show what’s really going on in the campus free speech fight.

The latest campus free speech controversy has a twist: It involves a conservative professor conspiring with students, in emails that sound like they were written by comic book villains, to dig up dirt on a progressive undergraduate.

The controversy took place at Stanford University and involves Niall Ferguson, a controversial historian known for his defenses of British colonialism. Ferguson was one of the faculty leaders of Cardinal Conversations, a Stanford program run by the conservative Hoover Institution that aims to bring speakers to the university who would “air contested issues on our campus.” The program’s speaker slate leaned right; recent events featured race-and-IQ theorist Charles Murraytech mogul Peter Thiel, and Christina Hoff Sommers, a prominent critic of modern feminism.

Ferguson seemed to view Michael Ocon, a left-wing student activist slated to graduate in 2020, as a threat to the program. In an email to two members of the Stanford Republicans, John Rice-Cameron and Max Minshull, he wrote that “some opposition research on Mr. O [Ferguson’s name for Ocon] might also be worthwhile.” Minshull, who works as Ferguson’s research associate, said he’d “get on” the dirt-digging.

Some of the emails had an overtly sinister tone. Rice-Cameron, who is, oddly enough, the son of Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, wrote in one email that “slowly, we will continue to crush the Left’s will to resist, as they will crack under pressure.”

Ferguson wrote in another note, “now we turn to the more subtle game of grinding them down on the committee,” adding that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” . . . 

Free speech, nominally, shouldn’t be either a right or left issue. A world in which all viewpoints can be respected should, in theory, benefit people from all perspectives.

In practice, many campus conservatives have hijacked the idea. The strategy is to invite someone with a history of making sexist or racist comments, like provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, with the express purpose of outraging campus liberals. . . .

It’s a kind of power game. The goal isn’t to vindicate the abstract right to free speech but to assert the right’s power and influence over campus discourse — to force the campus mainstream into a choice between allowing vile ideas to spread or looking hostile to free speech.

The Ferguson emails are an unusually clear admission that this is what’s going on. Digging up dirt on a student in an attempt to silence their activism isn’t about “free speech” — it’s about suppressing left-wing speech."

Related Coverage:

Posted by Michael Simkovic on May 24, 2018 in Faculty News, Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Weblogs | Permalink

18% jump in LSATs taken during 2017-18...

...and an 11% increase in students registered with LSAC to send their credentials to law schools.  It's clear the bottom of the application pool is now a couple of years past, how much larger the pool will grow remains to be seen.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 24, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

May 23, 2018

A slightly odd request: recommendation of an Austrian defamation lawyer?

The lawyer has to be able to read English because, even though the possible defamer is in Vienna, the defamation is in English.  Recommendations gratefully received:  bleiter-at-uchicago-dot-edu.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 23, 2018 | Permalink

May 22, 2018

Entry-level hiring report for 2017-18

We are indebted, as always, to Professor Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern) for compiling it yet again.  A few striking data points:  total rookie hires increased from 62 last year to 75 this year; I was expecting more like 80, but perhaps the small pool of candidates led some schools not to hire at the end of the day.  56 schools did hire, up from 42 last year.   Barring a war or economic catastrophe, I expect the upward trend in both total hires and the number of schools hiring to continue, given the stabilization, indeed, increase, in the applicant pool.  (You can see details about the Chicago placements this year here.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 22, 2018 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

May 18, 2018

Lawyer of the day: Aaron Schlossberg

Occasionally, social media catches a pathetic bigot in action.  And he's a lawyer in New York City no less.  I imagine his future prospects are not great.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 18, 2018 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

How to become a better empiricist, or at least start using empirical methods (Michael Simkovic)

I recently wrote about the evolution of economics--and law & economics--from fields that focused on assumptions and priors to fields that emphasizes data, causal inference, and scientific objectivity.  Many law professors and aspiring academics share my enthusiasm for Albert Einstein's vision of universities as “Temples of Science”, but are unsure of how to acquire or sharpen the technical skills that will make them effective empiricists.

Bernard Black at Northwestern runs extremely helpful and practical summer workshops that I highly recommend. The quality of Professor Black's workshops easily justifies the cost.  (There are free law & economics workshops--and some that will even pay you a stipend to attend--but from what I have seen, these  tend to present non-empirical methods and political view points).

Details about Professor Black's workshop are available below the break.

2018 Northwestern-Duke Main and Advanced Causal Inference Workshops 


[please recirculate to others who might be interested]

Northwestern University and Duke University are holding our “main” week-long workshop on Research Design for Causal Inference – our ninth annual workshop -- at Northwestern Law School in downtown Chicago.  We invite you to attend.  Our apologies for the length of this message.


Main Workshop:  Monday – Friday, June 18-22, 2018


We will also be holding an “Advanced” Workshop the following week:


Advanced Workshop:  Monday – Wednesday, June 25-27, 2018


Both workshops will be taught by world-class causal inference researchers.  See below for details.  Registration is limited to around 100 participants.  In the past we have filled the main workshop quickly.  So please register soon.

For information and to register: www.law.northwestern.edu/research-faculty/conferences/causalinference/   


Workshop Organizers

Bernard Black (Northwestern University)

Bernie Black is Nicholas J. Chabraja Professor at Northwestern University, with positions in the Pritzker School of Law, the Institute for Policy Research, and the Kellogg School of Management, Finance Department.  Principal research interests: health law and policy; empirical legal studies, law and finance, international corporate governance.  Web page with link to CV: www.law.northwestern.edu/faculty/profiles/BernardBlack/. Papers on SSRN: http://ssrn.com/author=16042.


Mathew McCubbins (Duke University) 

Professor of Political Science and Law at Duke University, with positions in the Political Science Department and the Law School, and director of the Center for Law and Democracy.  Principal research interests: democratic institutions, legislative organization; behavioral experiments, communication, learning and decisionmaking; statutory interpretation, administrative procedure, research design; network economics.  Web page with link to CV:  www.mccubbins.us.  Papers on SSRN:  http://ssrn.com/author=17402.


Main Workshop Overview:  Research design for causal inference is at the heart of a “credibility revolution” in empirical research.  We will cover the design of true randomized experiments and contrast them to natural or quasi experiments and to pure observational studies, where part of the sample is treated in some way, the remainder is a control group, but the researcher controls neither the assignment of cases to treatment and control groups nor administration of the treatment.  We will assess the causal inferences one can draw from a research design, threats to valid inference, and research designs that can mitigate those threats.


Most empirical methods courses survey a variety of methods.  We will begin instead with the goal of causal inference, and emphasize how to design research to come closer to that goal.  The methods are often adapted to a particular study.  Some of the methods are covered in PhD programs, but rarely in depth, and rarely with a focus on credible causal inference and which methods to use with messy, real-world datasets and limited sample sizes.  Several workshop days will include a Stata “workshop” to illustrate selected methods with real data and Stata code.


Advanced Workshop Overview:  The advanced workshop provides in-depth discussion of selected topics that are beyond what we can cover in the main workshop.  Principal topics for 2018 include:  Day 1 (Mon.):  Principal stratification (generalization of causal-IV concepts and applications, including sample censoring through death or attrition.   Day 2 (Tues.):  Direct and indirect causal effects.  Synthetic controls and other advanced “matching” approaches with emphasis on panel data sets.  Day 3 (Wed.):  Application of machine learning methods to causal inference.


Target audience for main workshop:  Quantitative empirical researchers (faculty and graduate students) in social science, including law, political science, economics, many business-school areas (finance, accounting, management, marketing, etc), medicine, sociology, education, psychology, etc. –anywhere that causal inference is important.


We will assume knowledge, at the level of an upper-level college econometrics or similar course, of multivariate regression, including OLS, logit, and probit; basic probability and statistics including conditional and compound probabilities, confidence intervals, t-statistics, and standard errors; and some understanding of instrumental variables.  Despite its modest prerequisites, this course should be suitable for most researchers with PhD level training and for empirical legal scholars with reasonable but more limited training.  Even for recent PhD’s, there will be much that you don’t know, or don’t know as well as you should.


Target Audience for Advanced Workshop: Empirical researchers who are reasonably familiar with the basics of causal inference (from our main workshop or otherwise), and want to extend their knowledge.  We will assume familiarity with potential outcomes notation, difference-in-differences, regression discontinuity, panel data, and instrumental variable designs, but will not assume expertise in any of these areas.


Main Workshop faculty (in order of appearance)

Donald B. Rubin (Harvard University, Department of Statistics)

Donald Rubin is John L. Loeb Professor of Statistics, Harvard University.  His work on the “Rubin Causal Model” is central to modern understanding of when one can and cannot infer causation from regression.  Principal research interests:  statistical methods for causal inference; Bayesian statistics; analysis of incomplete data.  Web page, with link to CV: https://statistics.fas.harvard.edu/people/donald-b-rubin; Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Rubin 


Justin McCrary (University of California, Berkeley, Law School)

Justin McCrary is Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley.  Principal research interests: crime and urban problems, law and economics, corporations, employment discrimination, and empirical legal studies.  Web page with link to CV: http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~jmccrary/.


Jens Hainmueller (Stanford University, Department of Political Science)

Jens Hainmueller is Professor in the Stanford Political Science Department, and co-Director of the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab.  He also holds a courtesy appointment in the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  His research interests include statistical methods, political economy, and political behavior.  Web page with link to CV:  http://www.stanford.edu/~jhain//.  Papers on SSRN: https://ssrn.com/author=739013.


Advanced Workshop Faculty (in order of appearance)

Donald Rubin (see above)


Fabrizia Mealli (University of Florence, Department of Statistics and Computer Science)

Fabrizia Mealli is Professor of Statistics at the University of Florence and external research associate at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex.  Her research focuses on causal inference and simulation methods, program evaluation, missing data, and Bayesian inference.  She is a fellow of the American Statistical Association, and associate editor of Journal of the American Statistical Association (JASA), Biometrics, and Annals of Applied Statistics. Web page with link to CV:  http://local.disia.unifi.it/mealli/ 


Yiqing Xu (University of California San Diego, Department of Political Science)

Yiqing Xu is Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of California, San Diego. His main methods research involves causal inference with panel data.  Website: http://yiqingxu.org/.


Justin Grimmer (University of Chicago, Department of Political Science)

Justin Grimmer is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.  His primary research interests include political representation, Congressional institutions, and text as data methods.  Website:https://www.justingrimmer.org/


Main Workshop Outline

Monday June 18 (Donald Rubin): Introduction to Modern Methods for Causal Inference

Overview of causal inference and the Rubin “potential outcomes” causal model.  The “gold standard” of a randomized experiment.  Treatment and control groups, and the core role of the assignment (to treatment) mechanism.  Causal inference as a missing data problem, and imputation of missing potential outcomes.  Rerandomization.  One-sided and two-sided noncompliance.  


Tuesday June 19 (Justin McCrary): Matching and Reweighting Designs for “Pure” Observational Studies

The core, untestable requirement of selection [only] on observables.  Ensuring covariate balance and common support.  Subclassification, matching, reweighting, and regression estimators of average treatment effects.  Propensity score methods.  Methods that aim directly at covariate balance.


Wednesday June 20 (Justin McCrary): Instrumental variable methods

Causal inference with instrumental variables (IV), including (i) the core, untestable need to satisfy the “only through” exclusion restriction; (ii) heterogeneous treatment effects; and (iii) intent-to-treat designs for randomized trials (or quasi-experiments) with noncompliance.  


Thursday June 21 (Jens Hainmueller): Panel Data and Difference-in-Differences

Panel data methods:  pooled OLS, random effects, correlated random effects, and fixed effects.  Simple two-period DiD.  The core “parallel changes” assumption.  Testing this assumption.  Leads and lags and distributed lag models.  When does a design with unit fixed effects become DiD?  Accommodating covariates.  Triple differences.  Robust and clustered standard errors.  Introduction to synthetic controls.


Friday morning June 22 (Jens Hainmueller): Regression Discontinuity

(Regression) discontinuity (RD) research designs: sharp and fuzzy designs; bandwidth choice; testing for covariate balance and manipulation of the threshold; discontinuities as substitutes for true randomization and sources of convincing instruments.


Friday afternoon:  Feedback on your own research

Attendees will present their own research design questions from current work in breakout sessions and receive feedback on research design.  Session leaders:  Bernie Black, Mat McCubbins, Jens Hainmueller.  Additional parallel sessions if needed to meet demand.


Stata and R sessions

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we will either run parallel Stata and R sessions to illustrate actual code to implement the designs discussed in the lectures, or build Stata code into the lecture slides.


Advanced Workshop Outline

Monday June 25 (Donald Rubin and Fabrizia Mealli): Principal Stratification and Censoring

Generalizing the causal-IV strata of compliers-always takers-never takers-defiers.  Which treatment effects can be estimated for which strata?  Handling missing data and censoring through “death” or attrition.


Tuesday June 26 morning (Donald Rubin and Fabrizia Mealli): Direct and indirect causal effects.  

“Mediation” analysis:  Direct and indirect causal effects versus principal associative and dissociative effects.


Tuesday June 26 afternoon (Yiqing Xu): Advanced matching

Advanced matching and reweighting methods, with an emphasis on panel data applications.  Generalized synthetic controls.  Relative strengths and weaknesses of different matching and reweighting approaches.


Wednesday June 27 (Justin Grimmer): Machine learning (predictive inference) meets causal inference

Introduction to machine learning approaches.  When and how can machine learning methods be applied to causal inference questions.


Registration and Workshop Cost

Main Workshop: tuition is $900 ($600 for graduate students (PhD, SJD, or law) and post-docs.  The workshop fee include all materials, temporary Stata 15 license, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and an evening reception on the first workshop day.


Advanced Workshop:  tuition is $600 ($400 for graduate students (PhD, SJD, or law) and post-docs.  There is a $100 discount for persons attending both workshops.


You can cancel from either workshop five weeks in advance (May 14 for main workshop, May 21 for advanced workshop) for a 75% refund and by three weeks in advance 50% refund (in each case, less credit card processing fee), but there are no refunds after that.  


We know the workshop is not cheap.  We use the funds to pay our speakers and for meals and other expenses; we don’t pay ourselves.


Workshop Schedule

You should plan on full days, roughly 9:00-5:00.  Breakfast will be available at 8:30.

Questions about the workshops

Please email Bernie Black ([email protected]) or Mat McCubbins ([email protected]) for substantive questions or fee waiver requests, and Laura Dimitrijevic ([email protected]) for logistics and registration.

Posted by Michael Simkovic on May 18, 2018 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science, Student Advice | Permalink