Published online July 6, 2017
It was reassuring to read Dean Cecilia Rouse’s endorsement of diversity of thought at Princeton (President's Page, March 22). Consistent with her comments, I hope the University strives not only to tolerate thought-diversity, but to encourage, embrace, and engage it.
Based on anecdotal information, my sense is that Princeton has abundant opportunity in this regard. I raised the issue in a letter to PAW over a decade ago after reading that 100 percent of faculty donations in the Bush/Kerry election went to Kerry, yet haven’t observed a commitment similar to that made for other diversity concerns.
I’m intrigued by Dean Rouse’s comment about a “dearth of research on the value of diversity of thought,” wondering if research is really necessary. I suggest that nothing less than the history of the world makes the value obvious, when considering alternatives of democracy versus tyranny, diplomacy versus war, or compromise versus dogma. For Princeton, the value of exposure to diverse thought involves the difference between students being trained to follow a narrowly prescribed path through life versus learning to embrace its infinite possibilities.
With so much of society becoming intolerant of thought-diversity, I hope that Princeton might lead as a brave and optimistic example that constructive engagement of diverse thought can be a valuable strength, not something to be feared or avoided. Kudos to Dean Rouse and President Eisgruber for broaching the important topic, and I look forward to demonstrable follow-through.