Only a radical change will break our academic monoculture.

Avram Alpert:

In the 18th century, the University of Basel faced a nepotism-driven crisis. Of its 80 professorships, about 50 were controlled by just 15 families. The university’s enrollment and reputation were in decline. In response, they implemented a new method for choosing appointments: a structured lottery system. There was a rigorous, standardized procedure to arrive at the final three candidates. Then, one of the three was chosen randomly.

Not everyone was happy with the system. One scholar, for example, was a finalist 10 times without being chosen, while others lucked into positions on their first try — including one at just 23 years old. But there were also marked benefits. Most obviously, the nepotistic chain was largely broken. There were also reports of decreased envy and jealousy, and greater satisfaction with the final decisions, even among those who did not win the job. And among those who did win, the knowledge that they had been chosen by lottery increased their humility and modesty.