Thursday, November 3, 2022

Academic Freedom Conference

On Friday and Saturday Nov. 4/5, the Stanford GSB Classical Liberalism Initiative will host a two day conference on Academic Freedom. Conference website here, and I copy and paste the schedule below.  The room is beyond full, so we can't issue more in-person invitations. Because of that and the threat of protests (yes, a loud group at Stanford wants to silence the academic freedom / free speech conference),  we will not be able to accommodate walk-ins. 

But the event will be live-streamed. If you want to watch, register here and we'll send you a link. 

This is a separate effort from the academic freedom declaration I blogged  yesterday, though many of the same organizers are involved. 

Academic Freedom Conference

Academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech are under threat as they have not been for decades. Visibly, academics are “canceled,” fired, or subject to lengthy disciplinary proceedings in response to academic writing or public engagement. Less visibly, funding agencies, university bureaucracies, hiring procedures, promotion committees, professional organizations, and journals censor some kinds of research or demand adherence to political causes. Many parts of universities have become politicized or have turned into ideological monocultures, excluding people, ideas, or kinds of work that challenge their orthodoxy. Younger researchers are afraid to speak and write and don’t investigate promising ideas that they fear will endanger their careers. 

The two-day Academic Freedom Conference, arranged by the organizing committee, aims to identify ways to restore academic freedom, open inquiry, and freedom of speech and expression on campus and in the larger culture and restore the open debate required for new knowledge to flourish. The conference will focus on the organizational structures leading to censorship and stifling debate and how to repair them. 


Friday, November 4, 2022

8:20am - 8:30am PDT Opening Remarks: John H. Cochrane

8:30am - 9:00am PDT Why it has Gotten Harder to Find the Truth

Jonathan Haidt Professor, Ethical Leadership at New York University Stern School of Business

9:00am - 10:00am PDT Academic Freedom in STEM

Anna Krylov Professor, Chemistry at University of Southern California

Luana Maroja Professor, Biology at Williams University

Mimi St Johns Undergraduate Student, Stanford University=

Jerry Coyne Professor Emeritus, Biology at University of Chicago

Moderator: Sergiu Klainerman. Professor of Mathematics, Princeton

10:15am - 11:00am PDT Peter Thiel "The End of the Future"

Peter Thiel Partner at Founders Fund

11:00am - 12:00pm PDT Academic Freedom: Practical Solutions

Richard Lowery Associate Professor of Finance · McCombs School of Business

Dorian Abbot Associate Professor of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago

John Hasnas Professor of Business and Professor of Law (by courtesy) | Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics, Georgetown University

Peter Arcidiacono William Henry Glasson Professor of Economics, Duke University

Moderator: Anne Beyer Professor of Accounting, Stanford

12:00pm - 2:30pm PDT Lunch: The Radicalization of the Academy

Lee Jussim Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Rutgers University

2:30pm - 3:30pm PDT Are the Humanities Liberal?

Solveig Gold Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Research Associate, Princeton University

Joseph H. Manson Professor of Anthropology, UCLA

John Rose Associate Director of The Civil Discourse Project at Duke

Moderator: Jennifer Burns Professor of History, Stanford

3:45pm - 4:45pm PDT The Economics of Academic Freedom

Niall Ferguson Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

John H. Cochrane Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Tyler Cowen Professor of Economics at George Mason University and at the Center for the Study of Public Choice

Moderator: Rob Reich Professor of Political Science, Stanford

5:00pm - 6:00pm PDT The State of Higher Education: USA, UK, Canada

John M. Ellis Professor Emeritus of German Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz

Gad Saad Professor of Marketing, Concordia University (Montreal)

Eric Kaufmann Professor of Politics, University of London

Moderator: Ivan Marinovic Professor of Accounting, Stanford

Saturday, November 5, 2022

8:30am - 9:30am PDT Academic Freedom Applications: Climate Science and Biomedical Sciences

Noah Diffenbaugh Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Bjorn Lomborg Founding Director Copenhagen Consensus

Jay Bhattacharya Professor of Health Policy, Stanford University

John Ioannidis Professor of Medicine, Stanford University

Moderator: John H. Cochrane Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

9:30am - 10:15am PDT The War on the West: a conversation

Douglas Murray Author and Journalist

Jordan Peterson Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto (Emeritus) 

10:45am - 12:00pm PDT Academic Freedom: What Is It and What Is It For?

Greg Lukianoff President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE)

Nadine Strossen John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, Emerita, New York Law School and Senior Fellow, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression)

Richard Shweder Harold Higgins Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development, University of Chicago

Hollis Robbins Dean, College of Humanities, University of Utah

Moderator: Brandice Cane-Wrone Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

12:30pm - 2:30pm PDT Lunch: Scott Atlas "Academia, Science, and Public Health: Will Trust Return?"

Scott Atlas Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

2:30pm - 3:15pm PDT Rationality and Academic Freedom 

Steven Pinker Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University

3:30pm - 4:30pm PDT Academic Freedom in Law and Legal Education

Ilya Shapiro Senior Fellow and Director of Constitutional Studies, Manhattan Institute

Michael McConnell Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford University

Eugene Volokh Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Los Angeles

Moderator: Jeffrey Zwiebel Professor of Finance, Stanford

4:30pm - 5:30pm PDT The Cost of Academic Dissent

Joshua Katz Senior Fellow American Enterprise Institute

Frances Widdowson Independent Researcher

Amy Wax Robert Mundheim Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Weiss Professor of Anthropology, San Jose State University

Moderator: Harald Uhlig Professor of Economics, University of Chicago


  1. The event is live streamed - now question, will the podcast be available to be viewed at a later date (if someone cannot join the live stream)?
    Thank you.

  2. What is astounding to me is that a conference *needs to be held* about these topics discussed. In the past, those were completely self-evident. What happened?

  3. "Many parts of universities have become politicized or have turned into ideological monocultures, excluding people, ideas, or kinds of work that challenge their orthodoxy." this is so sad... and sounds so out of place too. At Stanford. In the UNITED STATES. Thankfully, it has not arrived here. Yet...
    (nov 3/4 = nov 4/5, thought I had already missed it for a second...)

  4. "Many parts of universities have become politicized or have turned into ideological monocultures, excluding people, ideas, or kinds of work that challenge their orthodoxy." this is so sad... and sounds so out of place too. At Stanford. In the UNITED STATES. Thankfully, it has not arrived here. Yet...
    (nov 3/4 = nov 4/5, thought I had already missed it for a second...)

  5. I don't know how deeply the likely protesters think, but if they even so much as put a toe over the line and act afool, they will unwittingly become the poster children of the conference, the dramatized demonstration that all worries are in fact justified.

    You'd almost pray they'd be dumb enough to show up, say stupid things and then engage in vandalism because there is no discussion that would ever be as convincing as idiot activists demonstrating there is a problem. They so much as breathe the wrong way in front of a camera amd they're done. What dimwit thought it would be a good idea?

  6. Thanks to you and your colleagues for organizing both the conference and the declaration. Much needed, inspiring and encouraging. This is one of the most important issues we face, and too many people don't seem to grasp the long-term consequences of how this plays out. The conference agenda looks like an all-star game, look forward to following the livestream.

  7. Perhaps I disagree with the bulk of speakers at this conference. They still have the right to speak entirely unfettered or unthreatened by anyone.

  8. As a physician who has personally experienced cancellation and censorship by my society, The American College of Surgeons, I could not sign up fast enough for this conference. Many of the speakers are persons I have followed throughout the pandemic and of some I read their writings or viewed their videos for years before. Alas, a family commitment prevented me from viewing the livestream but you can be sure I will watch the recorded version. I took issue with the ACS nearly three years ago when I became aware of a strong push to install critical race theory into the ACS. This took on a dramatic turn as urgent in the aftermath of the George Floyd riots. The ACS leadership adopted the position that the ACS is structurally (or systemically-take your pick) racist as are its surgeons and even the practice of surgery itself, as demonstrated by disparities in surgical outcomes in different racial groups. The ACS adopted initiatives inseparable from CRT, calling them, of course, diversity, equity, and inclusion measures. These included its Task Force on Racism recommended that antiracism be added to the values of the ACS, adding a diversity pillar to the other five pillars of the ACS, adding a Diversity section in the ACS with its own Director of Diversity and Clinical Director of Diversity, training staff on such things as microaggressions, implicit bias, and ally/active bystander, and inviting Ibram X Kendi to speak at the leadership retreat for leaders of all other surgical societies on DEI hosted by the ACS in June 2021. Despite these steps, the leadership of the ACS continues to deny that they are, in fact, inserting critical race theory into the ACS. I felt this was wrong and spoke up, even threatening to leave the ACS if this direction persisted. Me efforts resulted in the longest comment thread in the history of the ACS online forums. The leadership reached out to me, then changed the rules of the forums to prevent Fellows from posting non-clinical comments on clinical forums. When multiple Fellows in addition to me protested, our online posts were deleted. I persisted and was permanently banned from any access to the online forums. I was told I continuously used disrespectful language and posted non-clinical comments on clinical forums. I have repeatedly requested to be shown examples of this and none has been forthcoming. I cannot even access the membership directory or my own private messages. Many Fellows messaged me privately to say they supported me but could not comment publicly for fear of their jobs. Now, I am fighting my suspension. My opinion piece on this issue was published in the Wall Street Journal on September 14 ( ). I will be happy to speak on this anytime, anywhere. R. Bosshardt, MD, FACS


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