At the Institute for Humane Studies, we believe vibrant debate is essential to the college experience. In a liberal society, institutions of higher education should be epicenters of open inquiry, and faculty should feel secure in their role of encouraging their students to ask questions and enter conversations on complex issues.
IHS strongly believes that freedom of expression is critical to student growth and learning, to the advance of knowledge, and to the progress of free societies. To support faculty in creating a culture of free and open inquiry on campuses, IHS has launched the Open Inquiry Project, a platform for faculty learning and engagement on the issues of free speech and independent thought on college campuses.
On many campuses today, students and faculty are shying away from these questions and conversations, fearful of inflaming heightened sensitivities on these complex issues. Efforts to avoid conflict on such issues, however well-intentioned, threaten to undermine the role of the university and of faculty in promoting intellectual and moral progress. More, the mistaken belief that students need to be protected from challenging and potentially offensive ideas can leave students poorly prepared to productively engage in democratic politics.
-Dr. Jason Ross, Senior Director for Faculty Relations
Creating a Culture of Freedom on Campus
At IHS we believe the university is its faculty. Faculty-led efforts can have a huge impact in cultivating and sustaining a culture of free speech and open inquiry on their campuses.
We are encouraged by the passage of resolutions such as those passed by the University of Chicago in January 2015, affirming the school’s longstanding commitment to freedom of expression. The resolution colloquially referred to as the “Chicago Principles” in part says:
“. . . the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”