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Diermeier urges universities to lead America back toward reasoned debate in ‘USA Today’ opinion piece

Feb. 17, 2021, 8:00 AM

By Carrie Moore

USA Today Opinion logoA new USA Today op-ed written by Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, “Stand up for facts: How universities can lead America back toward reasoned debate,” urges top universities like Vanderbilt to take a leading role in restoring “reason, rationality and honesty” into the national dialogue. Reflecting on this moment in America, Diermeier argues that universities should leverage their strengths in research and transformational education to reestablish faith in one another and our institutions.

In the piece, Diermeier points to the university’s work on the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, to its critical role in developing a COVID-19 vaccine in record time, and to its long-standing tradition of educating the leaders of tomorrow.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier (John Russell/Vanderbilt)
Chancellor Daniel Diermeier (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

The substance of the piece highlights Vanderbilt’s core values:

“We have an opportunity now to inject knowledge and intellectual rigor back into the fabric of our nation by forcefully demonstrating the values at the core of a university: the commitment to open discourse, listening to divergent points of view, and being open to changing one’s mind when new ideas and facts warrant it.”

“This requires an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences and ideas inform and stimulate discussions and engagement.”

“This kind of productive interaction thrives in a climate of respect and civility. It requires an environment of inclusion and an openness to engaging in conversations that can be difficult and may challenge existing views. It requires the skills to argue forcefully for one’s position, but also the maturity to learn from others and to be persuaded by a better argument.”

Diermeier will provide opening remarks for two upcoming Vanderbilt events related to his published commentary:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 23, at noon CT: “Dissent, Disorder and Democracy: What Led to the U.S. Capitol Insurrection,” moderated by Alan Wiseman, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and chair of the political science department, and a panel of faculty experts who will examine the social, legal and psychological causes and consequences of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Click here to learn more and register.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m. CT: “This Moment in America,” hosted by Dr. André L. Churchwell, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, and featuring a panel of Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students who will share their experiences and views on a range of topics, including police violence, the COVID-19 pandemic, recent changes to the Supreme Court and presidency, and immigration.

Click here to learn more and register.

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