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August 9, 2023+Team HxA
+Open Inquiry+Viewpoint Diversity+Campus Policy+Academic Careers

HxA President John Tomasi Signs and Endorses ‘Princeton Principles for a Campus Culture of Free Inquiry’

In March of 2023, a group of 15 scholars, including HxA President John Tomasi, convened at Princeton University to establish a set of principles meant to revitalize free inquiry on campus. The result of this convening is the just-published Princeton Principles for a Campus Culture of Free Inquiry, a statement that articulates “the core mission of the American university, its distinctive contribution to the American Republic,” and how open inquiry and free expression are integral to cultivating such a campus culture. Specifically, the principles:

  1. articulate the core mission of the university in relation to its special status as an educational institution dedicated to free inquiry;

  2. provide standards that cultivate free and vigorous inquiry in scholarship, teaching, and campus activities beyond the classroom; and

  3. offer broad guidelines for the revitalization of the university’s core mission.

The Princeton Principles are an outcome of the Freedom of Thought, Inquiry, and Expression Initiative at Princeton’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. The Principles are intended for adoption by colleges and universities of all types in their commitment to protecting and promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and free expression.

As the document’s introduction states, “Many of our nation’s colleges and universities are failing to maintain cultures of free and vigorous inquiry. Faculty and university leaders of these institutions should soberly evaluate and revitalize their institutional cultures. In cases where trustees or other non- faculty members engage in reform efforts, they must intervene in good faith by supporting a university’s efforts to fulfill its core mission. Universities should not be made into political or ideological battlegrounds.”

HxA, now more than 6,000 members strong, was founded to counter the threats to inquiry and expression that exist within the academy today by advancing the principles of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement to improve higher education and academic research. The Princeton Principles are yet another positive step toward achieving this vision, and we encourage each of our members to read them with great fervor.


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