Harvard University professors are banding together to protect free expression on campus, as dissenting views become increasingly ostracized in the academy.
The Council of Academic Freedom, led by more than 90 faculty members, was formed to promote “free inquiry, intellectual diversity, and civil discourse on campus,” according to a press release. The council is co-chaired by civil libertarian lawyer Alan Dershowitz and government professor Harvey Mansfield, and other members include former Harvard President Lawrence Summers and economic policy professor Jason Furman.
Steven Pinker, a psychology professor and co-president of the Council of Academic Freedom, and psychobiology professor Bertha Madras recently wrote an opinion piece in The Boston Globe, arguing that “repression of academic freedom is systemic and must be actively resisted.”
“No one is infallible or omniscient. Mortal humans begin in ignorance of everything and are saddled with cognitive biases that make the search for knowledge arduous,” the academics explained. “The only way that our species has managed to learn and progress is by a process of conjecture and refutation: Some people venture ideas, others probe whether they are sound, and in the long run the better ideas prevail.”
The Council of Academic Freedom comes as free speech at American universities is increasingly stifled by the Left. Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan was verbally accosted by protesters and a diversity administrator at Stanford University as he attempted to deliver a speech to law students, while a collegiate swim champion was assaulted by student activists at San Francisco State University after she delivered a speech about radical gender theory and women’s sports.
Harvard has also seen attempts to silence conservative voices. Administrators removed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) two years ago from her role on the senior advisory board of the Harvard Institute of Politics for making claims about voter fraud deemed to be incorrect. Students circulated a petition that sought to revoke the Harvard degrees earned by lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) after the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol Building, asserting that the officials had “worked hard to spread the disinformation and mistrust” which led to the incident.
The Council of Academic Freedom is determined to protect free expression at Harvard and beyond.