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Lecture to address ideological conformity on university campuses, in American society

1st lecture of the 2022–23 Civic Discourse Project to shed light on potential threats to American democracy

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The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University has announced the 2022–23 Civic Discourse Project lecture series.

August 15, 2022

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University has announced the 2022–23 Civic Discourse Project lecture series.

In its sixth season, the project invites the audience to reflect on the status of open dialogue, dissent and the pursuit of knowledge today in universities and American society. Throughout the series, guest speakers will discuss whether there is room for disagreement and ideological differences in the arts, media, business and the academic environment today.

In the kick-off lecture on Sept. 12 at 5 p.m., University of London’s Professor Eric Kaufmann will present his research findings about what he calls “cultural socialism” on campus. According to Kaufmann, weak institutional protections for academic freedom and self-censorship impair debate and undermine viewpoint diversity on campus. Registration is now open for in-person attendance, and the recording will be available on SCETL's YouTube channel

“Today, Western societies expose a growing ‘culture war’ between cultural socialism and cultural liberalism,” Kaufmann said. “Cultural liberalism is the belief that individuals and groups should have the freedom to express themselves, should not be compelled to endorse beliefs that they oppose, and should be treated equally by social norms and the law. Cultural socialism, on the other hand, is the idea that public policy should be used to redistribute wealth, power and self-esteem from the privileged groups in society to disadvantaged groups, especially racial and sexual minorities and women.”

Kaufmann argues that this divide is progressively taking over academic settings and social environments. He will be joined by ASU Professor Peter de Marneffe from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, who will raise questions about Kaufmann’s research and conclusions. 

The Civic Discourse Project brings to ASU’s Tempe campus some of the country’s most respected public intellectuals and leaders, co-sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

“On campuses across the country, we see the rise of claims that other points of view should not be allowed because they are immoral, or they are just wrong,’” said Paul Carrese, founding director of the school. “At (the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership), we are committed to defending free speech and intellectual diversity on campus and in our society. There are some kinds of discourse on university campuses that are not appropriate, but within that set of parameters, there is an enormous amount of thinking and debating that the academic community and students should be engaging with.”

Eric Kaufmann at a park looking at the camera

Professor Eric Kaufmann will speak at ASU's Tempe campus on Sept. 12.

Kaufmann is a professor of politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of "Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities" (Penguin, 2018; Abrams, 2019); "Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth" (Profile, 2010); "The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America" (Harvard, 2004); "The Orange Order" (Oxford, 2007); and "Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland since 1945" with H. Patterson (Manchester, 2007). 

He is co-editor, among others, of "Political Demography" (Oxford, 2012) and "Whither the Child: Causes and consequences of low fertility" (Paradigm, 2012), and editor of "Rethinking Ethnicity: Majority Groups and Dominant Minorities" (Routledge, 2004).

An editor of the journal Nations and Nationalism, he has written for New York Times, Times of London, Financial Times, Newsweek International, Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines.

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