- June 25, 2019
The NAS applauds the University of Colorado (CU), which has just announced that it “will soon double the size of its Boulder-based Bruce D. Benson Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy.” This announcement accompanies a unanimous vote by the CU Board of Regents to distribute a statement in favor of academic freedom and free speech each year to incoming freshmen. The University of Colorado, under the leadership of the retiring President Benson, has welcomed diverse viewpoints, specifically conservative voices, creating in CU a true marketplace of ideas. These actions by the University of Colorado distinguish it, favorably, from the vast majority of universities in America.
As other universities disrupt and stifle debate, intellectual diversity, and academic rigor, CU promotes these as virtues of learning. It leads the way by offering courses on the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Western Tradition, and Foundations of Western Civilization. Other academic institutions should take note of CU’s pioneering efforts to promote intellectual diversity, prioritize academic freedom, and foster an awareness of our shared history. American higher education would be well-served if others followed CU’s example. This is just the first step, but its significance will reverberate for generations.
We are delighted that we can now challenge the University of Colorado to do even more to improve the education it offers its students, with a reasonable expectation that they will continue to improve. CU-Boulder could expand the reach of the Benson Center by restoring graduation requirements to take survey courses in Western Civilization, American history, and American government. CU-Boulder could pass regulations based on the model state legislation titled The Campus Intellectual Diversity Act, and it could introduce intellectual diversity rubrics into its course approval process, approval of courses to satisfy general education requirements, student course evaluations, common reading programs, annual reviews, and evaluation of departments’ strategic goals and student learning outcomes. It could reduce or eliminate its diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracies, which are the greatest threats to academic freedom and free speech at CU Boulder. The University of Colorado and its Board have affirmed their commitment to Western Civilization, academic freedom, and free speech; steps such as these would give ensure that these commitments persist after President Benson’s tenure.
We could not challenge CU Boulder and its Board to do more if they had not already done so much. We are delighted with these initiatives. The citizens of Colorado should be proud that their state university is dedicating itself to the best reforms of higher education.
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