Professor Sets up 'Faculty for Common Sense' to Fight 'Progressive Conformity'

Eric Kaufmann has created a new research centre because 'there is absolutely nothing that goes against the prevailing narrative' of wokeness.
Professor Sets up 'Faculty for Common Sense' to Fight 'Progressive Conformity'
Eric Kaufmann, former professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London, being interviewed by NTD's Lee Hall in London in April 2023. (NTD)
Owen Evans

A leading researcher into cancel culture has left his university for a rival institution because he says there is nothing to challenge the woke "progressive-controlled monoculture of academia."

Professor Eric Kaufmann has left Birkbeck, University of London, to take up a position as professor of politics at the University of Buckingham to start the world's first course on woke as well as a research centre.

He told The Epoch Times that his decision to leave was, in part, down to being "cancelled by 1,000 cuts."

He added that "radical activist" students tried to publicly shame him and they also internally "tried to cause trouble by launching formal complaints."

He was also concerned that left-wing academics would try and stand in his way regarding research and approval for his work.

"All of those things sort of made for an uncomfortable environment and then the university then went into some financial difficulties and so that was a spur for me to look elsewhere," he said.

'Huge Reluctance Amongst Academics'

On X, formerly known as Twitter, he wrote that "progressive conformity and cancel culture are distorting the teaching and research mission of universities."

"Between the extremely controversial and the progressive-controlled monoculture of academia is a vast and growing zone of unspoken truth," he warned.

He told The Epoch Times that the proliferation of critical social justice woke ideology "is a hugely important phenomenon."

"It is becoming very much talked about in media, on podcasts, and so on and it's reshaping politics."

"And yet, there's a huge reluctance amongst academics to study this," he said.

"It's very uncomfortable for them because it cuts very close to the belief system of many," he said, adding that because of who is in academia, this topic, like a number of others and perspectives "just won't be studied when it needs to be."

He added that he has established the Centre for Heterodox Social Science at Buckingham to pursue "countercultural social science and humanities research."

"In the U.S., you have about 150 non-leftist research centres in the country, and there's none in Britain. So there is absolutely nothing that goes against the prevailing narrative, prevailing sort of progressive dominated space," he said.

'Break Out of That Matrix'

Expanding further to the counter-cultural aspect, Mr. Kaufmann said that there's an "environment of conformity" and that "you do really need something that can break out of that matrix."

"There's an unquestioning attitude to this as if it's just common decency and morality rather than an actual quite radical ideology," he said.

"And so that kind of lack of a challenge to the orthodoxy to the kind of mainstream current that's common in universities and those who try and challenge it are severely discouraged from doing so," he added.

He noted that the UK has Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) law, legislation which has created new duties on universities, colleges, and their students’ unions to strengthen free speech and academic freedom.

"Yes, the legislation is great," he said. "But if we really want to get an alternative perspective, we're probably going to need another an alternative centre or unit or university, as in this case, to allow for some of those social pressures to be relaxed enough that we can have an open discussion," he added.

Free Speech

A spokesman for Birkbeck told The Epoch Times that Mr. Kaufmann had left "at his own request on a voluntary basis, as part of a restructure supporting the reorganisation of our academic departments.”

“Birkbeck is committed to free, robust, and open debate among all members of the college community. It has policies in place to enable free speech and procedures to investigate and act on concerns, should it be notified of these," he said.

He added that Birkbeck also "has policies to prevent bullying, harassment, and victimisation, and procedures to investigate and act on incidences that may breach these."

Last year, unions criticised plans at Birkbeck to sack 140 staff in 2023, including up to a quarter of teaching staff, to fill a multi-million pound deficit caused by a fall in student numbers.

Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.