My Wellesley

Why Elite Colleges have Forsaken Learning for the Bottom Line

April 3, 2018

Chris W. Surprenant
Chris W. Surprenant
associate professor of philosophy at the University of New Orleans

Chris W. Surprenant is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of New Orleans, where he is the founding director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Project, an interdisciplinary center focusing on contemporary issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics. His current projects focus on the role financial incentives have played in shaping our institutions--especially criminal justice systems throughout the US--and that recognizing and understanding how these incentives operate provides the best opportunity for meaningful social change.

Turn on the news (or what counts as "news" these days) and it is impossible to avoid hearing about the most recent incident of college student protests over insensitive or otherwise hurtful speech by visiting speakers, one of their professors, or some of their classmates. Wellesley is no stranger to this controversy. Drawing on his background and recent visits to college campuses across the US--including many "non-elite" universities and historically black colleges--Prof. Surprenant will share his concerns about the direction of discourse on many so-called elite college campuses. He will explain why intellectual advancement requires bringing many (but not all) views to the table for discussion, especially those we may vehemently disagree with, and suggest criteria for when we are right to deny a platform for certain views.