Issues & Ideals

The National Association of Scholars upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.

The Issues

Academic Content

  • Hollowing out of liberal education
  • Politicization of the classroom
  • Trivialization of scholarship and teaching
  • Disappearance of core curricula
  • Neglect of important books
  • Marginalization of key subjects
  • Declining study of Western civilization
  • Overemphasis on the current, popular, marginal, ephemeral
  • Overemphasis on issues of race, gender, class, sexual orientation
  • Excessively high tuitions
  • Policies that encourage students to assume imprudent levels of debt
  • Federal policies that encourage profligate spending by colleges and universities
  • Deep flaws in higher education’s financial model
  • Administrative bloat
  • Burdensome regulation
  • Censorship of ideas and suppression of debate
  • Ethnic preferences in admissions and hiring
  • Sex discrimination in academic hiring
  • Ideological litmus tests for faculty appointments and tenure
  • Abuses of academic freedom and individual rights
  • Exclusion of conservative and traditional viewpoints
Academic Integrity
  • Widespread plagiarism
  • Research fraud
  • Grade inflation
  • Credential inflation
  • Academic credit for non-academic activities
  • Cheapening of honors and distinctions
Campus Culture
  • Cultivation of ethnic and group grievances
  • Neglect of character education
  • Dorm-based indoctrination
  • Transformation of student activities into student activism
  • Broad imposition of the “sustainability” agenda on university activity and campus life
  • The rise of a “therapeutic” model of education
  • Celebration of what is coarse
  • Overemphasis on group study
  • Pressure to conform to campus ideologies
  • Partying and the hook-up culture
  • Corruption of college athletics
  • Systematic denigration of American society
  • Denial of the possibility of truth and disinterestedness
  • Condescension toward the non-academic world
  • Anti-capitalist, anti-democratic, and anti-freedom orientations
  • Complacency toward divisive group entitlements
  • Marketing college as the only path to success
  • Assuming a college degree signifies an education
  • Opaque rules and procedures
  • Overreaching harassment codes at odds with intellectual freedom
  • Overemphasis on “community-building” at the expense of academic learning
  • Excessive layers of administration
  • Deficiencies in the U.S. accreditation system
  • Lack of public accountability
  • Marginalization of the trustee role in shared governance
  • The higher education “bubble”—and the possibility of serious retrenchment
  • The rise of online colleges
  • The rise of for-profit colleges
  • Expansion of community colleges
  • Effects of new national K-12 standards on students’ college preparedness
  • Continuing deficiencies in teacher education
  • The “outcomes assessment” movement
  • “Multiculturalism,” “diversity,” “sustainability”

Our Ideals

The National Association of Scholars advocates for excellence by encouraging commitment to high intellectual standards, individual merit, institutional integrity, good governance, and sound public policy.

Intellectual Standards
  • Ideas judged on their merits
  • Disinterested pursuit of truth
  • Fair and judicial examination of contending views
  • Rich and challenging reading assignments
  • Frequent and carefully assessed writing assignments
  • Well-rounded core requirements
  • Transmission of both the core content and core values of Western civilization
  • Rigorous and fair testing and examination
  • Coherent curricula within majors and programs of study
Individual Merit
  • Individuals judged fairly, according to their abilities and accomplishments
  • Grades consonant with accomplishment
Institutional Integrity
  • Thrift, faithful stewardship of gifts, and financial probity
  • Transparency in the curriculum and classroom 
  • Scientific spirit in scholarly inquiry
  • Freedom of faculty members and students to pursue academic research
  • Freedom of faculty members to teach their academic subjects
  • Freedom of students to question and to think for themselves
  • Freedom from ideological imposition or suppression
  • Conservation of knowledge and intellectual achievement
Good Governance
  • Leadership focused on academic mission
  • Appointment of officers and staff members who are genuinely qualified
  • Efficient organization
  • Transparent rules and procedures
  • Adherence to the rule of law
  • Restraint in response to fashionable movements and political, social, and ideological enthusiasms
  • Mindfulness of the history of higher education, the ethos of scholarship, and value of knowledge and free inquiry
  • Capacity and willingness to distinguish between the significant and the trivial
  • Commitment to civil debate and respect for dissenting opinions
Sound Public Policy
  • Prioritizing education as academia’s main purpose
  • Minimal student indebtedness
  • Equal opportunity on the basis of individual merit
  • Access to college for all
  • Alternatives to college made available
  • Greater price competition among colleges and universities
  • Support for affordable tuition
  • Support for innovation and the creation of new colleges
  • Support for the developing market for online college degrees and vocational training
  • One set of standards applied to for-profit and not-for-profit institutions
  • Academic programs aligned with U.S. national interests
  • Funding for basic research
  • Reform of K-12 education