As the left and much of academe attack western civilization as evil, the University of Colorado bucks the trend and reaps the rewards.
The university will soon double the size of its Boulder-based Bruce D. Benson Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy. It will do so in an era of academic oversensitivity that considers “western civilization” a politically incorrect “dog whistle” and “trigger” phrase that honors white men.
The announcement comes just after the CU Board of Regents voted unanimously to send a statement promoting free speech and academic freedom annually to all incoming freshmen. In doing so, the university stands in contrast to peer institutions that impose “speech codes” and create secluded “free speech zones” for expression of unpopular ideas.
The free speech statement and growth of the Benson Center are just the latest in CU’s effort to resist and counter academe’s rejection of free speech, intellectual diversity and academic freedom. It is working in the university’s favor. As applications dwindle at state-sponsored universities throughout the country, they set new records each year at CU.
The university has become so successful under the 10-year reign of retiring President Benson, other institutions of higher education send administrative teams to Colorado to learn how it is done. The University of California, Berkeley, is working to replicate CU’s practice of bringing conservative scholars to campus.
For the 2019-20 academic year, CU is bringing on author, former Republican Pennsylvania state Rep. and Villanova political science professor Colleen Sheehan as the newest visiting scholar. Sheehan will teach two courses each semester, beginning with a course on the western intellectual tradition and another on the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
“The principles at stake in pre-Civil War America are actually still at stake in America today,” Sheehan said. “And how we respond to the problems our nation is facing today is no less important than it was in 1860. I am excited to work with the students of CU Boulder on these critical questions and civic concerns.”
Last year’s visiting scholar, professor William B. Allen, will return as a senior scholar in residence. The center will bring on five additional scholars in residence, hailing from Auburn, Stony Brook, Toronto and Villanova.
Founded in 2006, the Benson Center promotes “critical reflection on the traditions and political perspectives that characterize Western civilization. Its aim is to promote a lively and balanced conversation that respects both conservative and liberal ideals in order to foster diversity of political, economic and philosophical perspectives on the CU Boulder campus.”
The addition of conservative scholars has changed the culture at CU, where students and faculty discuss conflicting ideas in an atmosphere of honest academic rigor. Students and faculty at other universities often make news for berating, protesting and banning celebrity conservative speakers. Because of CU’s official policies and practices favoring diversity, conservative speakers often remark on the welcome they receive in Colorado.