The “Reversing the Ideological Capture of Universities” event took place on Oct. 21.
HILLSDALE, Mich. — Hillsdale College’s Academy for Science and Freedom held a day-long event on Oct. 21 titled “Reversing the Ideological Capture of Universities” at its D.C. campus. The event was co-hosted with the Global Liberty Institute and the Salem Center for Policy at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. It featured panel discussions on potential solutions for decreasing ideological restrictions on college campuses around the country.
“The forum addressed one of the most important problematic issues of today, the failure of university education in its role as the center for the free exchange of ideas,” said Scott W. Atlas, fellow at Hillsdale’s Academy for Science and Freedom and co-director of the Global Liberty Institute.
The event featured five panels, titled: “How We Lost Humanities to Ideology,” “The Woke Destruction of Data‐Driven Inquiry,” “The Shutdown of Dissent in Science and Public Health,” “Student Journalism and the Battle for On-Campus Liberty,” and “Policy Ideas to Fix America’s Universities.”
The event’s featured keynote speaker was James Hankins, a professor of history at Harvard University and the founder and general editor of the I Tatti Renaissance Library. Hankins spoke on the loss of the humanities to political or ideological methods of scholarship.
“Last Friday, a packed audience at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center heard a series of expert panels describe the alarmingly rapid collapse in recent years of academic freedom as well as professional and scientific standards in American universities,” said Hankins. “We also heard heartening stories of personal courage in the face of cancellation and institutional persecution, and explored strategies for ending the ideological takeover of what used to be one of American democracy’s greatest creations: its system of higher education.”
Atlas noted that “The university is critical to our country in so many ways, as it serves to educate America’s next leaders as well as represents the source for many appointed experts who advise the federal government. The university environment must be repaired now. Our speakers not only exposed the problems that existing policy centers have failed to address, but the panels detailed a number of thoughtful solutions.”
Attendees heard from more than 25 other speakers and panelists, including panel chairs Atlas, Mollie Hemingway of Hillsdale College and The Federalist, John E.R. Staddon of Duke University, Bradley C.S. Watson of Hillsdale College, and Todd J. Zywicki of Antonin Scalia Law School.
“The conference compellingly showed the fallenness of our universities: their ideological hostility to the hallmarks of Western civilization, including open discourse, scientific objectivity, and fair treatment of individuals,” said Watson. “It also highlighted the extent to which our elites lack the moral virtue of courage — so even in the absence of ideological animus, we are unlikely to see a robust defense of the West any time soon.”
“On behalf of all three co-sponsors, we thank the outstanding group of leaders from academics, the private sector, and policy who contributed to this informative and provocative event. Hillsdale’s Academy for Science and Freedom provides a unique opportunity for critical, thoughtful discussion for both the public and the policymakers of Washington, D.C.,” said Atlas.
To view photos from the event, click here.
For more information about the Hillsdale College Academy for Science and Freedom, click here.
For information about future Hillsdale in D.C. events and to view recordings of past events, including Academy for Science and Freedom events, click here.
To read a recent interview with Scott W. Atlas about his work in health policy and the COVID-19 response, click here.