“In our view, constraints on discussions of important social issues, however sensitive, subvert the goals of a liberal arts education. Critical thinking requires the freedom to take ideas wherever they lead, as well as a willingness to consider opposing viewpoints and re-examine one’s own assumptions,” writes President David Wippman, co-author of “How Colleges Can Counter ‘Cancel Culture’” in Inside Higher Ed. Wippman and his co-author, Cornell Professor Glenn Altschuler, continue in the Nov. 9 essay, writing, “Academic freedom means faculty members and students must be able to teach, learn about and advocate for unpopular positions and contrarian ideas, even if doing so makes some classmates and colleagues uncomfortable.”
The pair discuss approaches to encouraging dialogue across differences, including Hamilton’s Common Ground speakers series. “Fostering civil discourse on contentious issues is not easy, but it is central to the academic mission. In an increasingly polarized society, it may also prove central to sustaining our democracy,” they conclude.