Phi Beta Cons

An Endorsement of Intellectual Diversity

In this IHE piece, the president of Guilford College makes a good argument in favor of more intellectual diversity on campus. He thinks it would be a good thing if students (and, I’d add, professors) had to confront rational challenges to their beliefs more often — if they had to ask, “What if I’m wrong?”

He’s right. Far too often, highly debatable issues are treated as settled questions where those who disagree must either be stupid or evil. Ideally, professors would make a point of having students carefully consider different perspectives. In this Pope Center piece from several years ago, I wrote about an experience of that sort that Professor Alan Kors had written about.

The problem is how to get faculty members who have been imbued with the idea that their role is that of “change agent” calling on them to make their students zealous clones of themselves to stop doing that. Many of them will resist any ideas about intellectual even-handedness. They don’t know what “the other side” argues and don’t care to find out.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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