Campus Wars and the Struggle for Democracy with Sigal R. Ben-Porath

July 23, 2021 - July 26, 2021
School of Education , PESGB and Liverpool Hope University

United Kingdom


  • Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Arizona
Bowling Green State University


Liverpool Hope University

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The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB) and Liverpool Hope University (LHU) will be providing for a postgraduate cohort to attend an online Summer School with Lead Tutor, Professor Sigal R. Ben-Porath (Penn GSE). The topic, Campus Wars and the Struggle for Democracy, is based around Professor Ben-Porath’s research as Fellow in Residence, Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. Professor Elizabeth Anderson (University of Michigan), Professor Allen Buchanan (Duke), and Associate Professor Kevin Vallier (Bowling Green) will discuss recent publications on related topics. There is no charge for taking part. This is an extraordinary opportunity for outstanding postgraduate (or graduate) students from around the world to engage with world renowned philosophers on a pressing and timely subject.
The boundaries of open expression are contested today in representative institutions, social media, and the public sphere: should misinformation be protected? Outright lies? Bigotry? In the US and elsewhere, university students withdraw, protest and refuse platforms for visiting speakers for a variety of reasons. ‘No platforming’ raises worries that campuses will become mere echo chambers rather than lively marketplaces of ideas. Conversely providing platforms seem to signal credibility or acceptability. While students may cite reasons of safety to refuse a platform, some critics dismiss universities that cater to them as ‘coddling’. This struggle over open expression on campus is situated within broader polarization and extremism in the political sphere. In this context, Professor Ben-Porath’s work focuses broadly on the ways democratic institutions, and especially educational ones, can enhance democratic culture. Ben-Porath, who advises colleges and universities on policies and practices related to free speech, suggests normative guidelines on disruptions, controversial classroom discussions, and incendiary events. Rival conceptions of inclusion, harm (or safety), and of truth (or true knowledge) lead to different boundaries of acceptable speech in institutions of higher learning today. So too do conceptions of the goals of higher education and of the general democratic project. In this Summer School, Professor Ben-Porath, Dr John Tillson (Liverpool Hope) and distinguished guest speakers will enable students to reckon with these central ideas and bring them to bear on the role of college in revitalizing democracy.
Seminar sessions will be based on readings selected and distributed in advance. Each student will be asked to help lead or facilitate one session. There will be plenty of opportunities for socializing over coffee in between seminars as well as a farewell on the final day. Students will be assigned tutors to provide individualised career and research mentoring advice.

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April 16, 2021, 1:00pm BST

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