Several professors from Ivy League institutions published a statement on Tuesday advising students to think for themselves.
A refreshing statement from Ivy League scholars at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale published on Tuesday instructs students starting college this fall to think for themselves. The statement was published by Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.
“Think for yourself,” the statement begins. “Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.”
“In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink,” they add.
The statement asks students to question dominant ideas in their community even if those around them are telling them that such ideas are unquestionable.
Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions—including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.
The professors’ statement is a refreshing change from the progressive ideology and dogmatic training witnessed on many campuses today. These professors may face a similar backlash to the professors who recently published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer asking Americans to live responsibly. Neither concept is particularly controversial to most Americans but has met resistance on campus.
You can read the entirety of the statement here.