Impolitic Politics: Free Speech, Censorship, and Civility on Campus in the Age of Trump

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Jonathan Zimmerman

Professor, History of Education, University of Pennsylvania

From immigration restriction and the Russia investigation to health care and taxation, our era has witnessed possibly unprecedented levels of political polarization and recrimination. On our airwaves and the Internet, especially, Americans shout past each other in a 24/7 deluge of snark and invective. That creates new challenges for our universities, which are supposed to expand our knowledge of the world and also teach the skills and virtues of democratic citizenship: reason, tolerance, and informed participation. But many of our campuses have not stepped up to this task; instead, they have echoed or even accelerated the polarized tenor of our moment. This talk will critique the spirit of contemporary campus politics and also provide suggestions for improving it.

Jonathan Zimmerman is a former Peace Corps volunteer and author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know and six other books. He is also a frequent contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, and other popular newspapers and magazines. Before arriving at Penn in 2016, he taught for 20 years at New York University. In 2008, Zimmerman received NYU’s Distinguished Teaching Award, its highest prize for teaching.