Robert P. George, a leading American academic and much-published author and lecturer.

Lack of campus debate a ‘scandal’: Catholic academic

By  Terry O'Neill, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 5, 2022

VANCOUVER -- The lack of intellectual debate on university campuses is “a scandal” that threatens the very soul of universities, a Catholic academic told a Vancouver audience.

Robert P. George, a leading American academic and much-published author and lecturer, spoke at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, where he said the job of a university “is to turn the student into a truth seeker and lifelong learner.”

But instead, “the increasing politicization of the academy” means students are not being exposed to dissenting views that could point them to truth.

An international report on threats to academic freedom found in 2021 that 60 per cent of conservative academics working in Canadian universities said there is a hostile climate to their beliefs in their respective departments, compared to only nine per cent for liberal academics who felt this way. The report was just one of many in recent years showing that not only has left-wing or “progressive” ideology hardened on most Western campuses, but also that this bias has led to intolerance of dissenting, conservative views — including religious ones.

George, a law professor at Princeton University known for his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, said universities must reform themselves so that real debate is allowed to flourish. A diversity of views and openness to argument “is what immunizes academia against group think,” he said. “We must never suppose that our adversaries can never be right.”

George said real diversity, including “intellectual diversity,” must be embraced on campus, not just the woke diversity of race and gender. Ultimately, students need to seek “truth, knowledge and wisdom.” This, he said, will be “the cure for campus illiberalism.”

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