West, George defend academic freedom in Coors forum

James Dean
Cornell Chronicle

Excerpt: Democracy and the search for truth require a willingness to challenge our most fundamental beliefs and accept criticism of them, a pair of prominent scholars argued during the fourth installment of Civil Discourse: The Peter ’69 and Marilyn ’69 Coors Conversation Series, hosted Sept. 9 by Cornell Law School.

The speakers, Cornel West and Robert P. George, said a commitment to those principles means not settling for social and media networks that reinforce our own viewpoints. It means that colleges and universities ensure faculty members who disagree on important issues engage with each other, they said, and that students hear perspectives they may find offensive. “We can only pursue truth if we do so with an open mind and with a critical and self-critical spirit,” said George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.