Ideological Conformity on Campus and in American Society

The Civic Discourse Project (2022-2023)

In the 2022-2023 Civic Discourse Project lecture series, we invite you to reflect on the status of open dialogue, dissent, and the pursuit of knowledge today in universities and American society. Throughout the series, we will discuss whether there is room for disagreement and ideological differences in the arts, the media, business, and the academic environment today. The Civic Discourse Project is co-sponsored by the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU.

Previous lectures of the 2022-23 Civic Discourse Project

"Unchallengable orthodoxy in the arts" with Bion Bartning, Clifton Duncan, Lincoln Jones, Winston Marshall, and Meg Smaker

Unchallengeable Orthodoxy in the Arts

There is a new form of intolerance sweeping the art world today, one that demands conformity of thought and rejects nuance on complicated social issues. Those who question or challenge this new and evolving orthodoxy risk damaging their careers and reputations. Is it worth it to speak up, or is there more to lose by remaining silent? What is the impact on art when artists, whom we count on to use their voices and give them expression, are afraid to speak their minds?

At this roundtable discussion, moderated by the president of The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, hear from artists who found the courage to speak up in the face of overwhelming social pressure, were targeted for doing so, and weathered the storm. Learn how to navigate these new challenges and why it is important to support excellence and creative freedom in the arts. 

  • Clifton Duncan (Actor)
  • Lincoln Jones (Director and Choreographer)
  • Winston Marshall (Musician)
  • Meg Smaker (Film Maker)
  • Bion Bartning, moderator (President, The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism)

This event is co-sponsored by The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR).

"Is the 'woke newsroom' a danger for American democracy?" with Batya Ungar-Sargon, Megan McArdle, and Jason Nichols

Is the 'woke newsroom' a danger for American democracy? with Batya Ungar-Sargon, Megan McArdle, and Jason Nichols

In this panel discussion, Batya Ungar-Sargon, Megan McArdle, and Jason Nichols discussed whether the mainstream media produce ideological conformity. According to some national commentators, some of the major media outlets are led by a progressive bias which they believe might be anti-democratic and a danger to American Democracy. This lecture was presented on Oct. 24, 2022. 

2022 Constitution Day Lecture | "1776 and Us: Finding the Founding in a Foundering Democracy" with Dr. Jane Kamensky

2022 ASU Constitution Day Lecture Dr. Jane Kamensky

From the very beginning, the history and study of the American Revolution has been bound up with the national identity of the United States, and thus with the country’s present needs. In recent years, the competing imperatives of activists and journalists at both edges of our ideological spectrum have produced warring narratives of the American founding: slavery versus liberty, original sin versus germinal gift, a conclave of villains versus garden of heroes. Both of these approaches owe more to politics than to history. As we approach the quarter-millennium mark, how can we equip ourselves and our students with an understanding of the revolutionary era that is rigorous, complex, and above all, true to the evidence?

Dr. Jane Kamensky is Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University.

The fifth Constitution Day Lecture was hosted on Sept. 19, 2022, and sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Design at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU and by The Jack Miller Center.

"Ideological conformity and censorship: existential threats to the university and liberal democracy?" with Eric Kaufmann

In the kickoff event of the 2022-23 Civic Discourse Project lecture series, Eric Kaufmann - Professor and Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange and Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London - discussed ideological conformity on campus and what he refers to as "cultural socialism" as a dominant in western higher education and in elite culture. This lecture was presented on Sept. 12, 2022.

Through our Civic Discourse Project, the school is able to bring in top minds in civics, academics and public thought for in-person dialogues. Not only are all of these public talks free and open to the public, but they are also available for viewing on our website. To be informed when new videos are available, sign up for our newsletter and subscribe to our Youtube channel

Go to the video catalog. 

Previous seasons of the Civic Discourse Project

2021-2022: Renewing America's Civic Compact

Can Americans find a path on which we can move together with a sense of purpose to rebuild the public and private institutions through which we sustain our civic, communal, and professional lives? How can we engage civilly amidst competing perspectives in the face of the many trials we face in politics and governance, at home and abroad? With these questions in mind, the 2021-2022 Civic Discourse Project offered an assessment of what the challenges are to American civic life and its institutions—including the university—and discussed how to rebuild the institutions and unity of our civil society.

Watch the series.

2020-2019: Race, Justice, and Leadership in America

In response to Arizona State University President Michael Crow's call to address recent events across America and the civic crisis of conscience they provoked, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership proposes to lead a program of discussion, learning, and action for a renewal of our common pledge to respect and protect the equal rights of all Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To this end, the theme of this year's "The Civic Discourse Project" will address Race, Justice, and Leadership in America in a virtual series. 

Watch the series.

Civic Discourse Project

2019-2020: Citizenship and Civic Leadership in America

Mark Twain once said that “[c]itizenship is what makes a republic.” The primary purpose of civic education, as envisioned by the Founders, was to instill in our population the civic virtues, basic principles and practices of citizenship that would sustain a republic. What are the characteristics, advantages, duties, and responsibilities of a citizen today? Speakers include Robert Putnam, Yascha Mounk, David Leonhardt, Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Shikha Dalmia.

Watch the series.

Civic Discourse Project

2018-2019: Polarization and Civil Disagreement: Confronting America's Civic Crisis

Political and intellectual polarization are a significant contributing factor to America’s civic crisis. By providing forums for civil disagreement, we hope to engage in the intellectual and civic work necessary to overcome the political divide and to renew and enhance America’s capacity for self-governance. Speakers include Jonah Goldberg, Arthur Brooks, and Kristen Soltis Anderson.  

Watch the series.

Civic Discourse Project

2017-2018: Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education and American Society

The school's inaugural lecture series took on the theme of free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses and in American society as a whole. The school assembled high profile speakers from a range of viewpoints to discuss the meaning of intellectual diversity in education; the new challenges facing freedom of discourse; and the implications of this campus crisis for America’s civic order. Speakers include Jonathan Haidt, Steven Pinker, Allison Stanger, and Harvey Mansfield.

Watch the series. 

Watch the Civic Discourse Project