Pepperdine University School of Public Policy: Protecting Free Speech

By Pete Peterson, Dean and Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy

One of the founding principles of our nation is the right to the free expression of speech.

Unfortunately, the majority of universities across the nation have forgotten that simple fact. Instead, they promote a liberal agenda and seek to suppress to free speech of conservative professors and students alike.

“Cancel culture” — the dangerous practice driven by leftists to “cancel” everything and everyone that doesn’t conform to their radical worldview — has taken its toll on college campuses across our nation.

While academia is supposed to support free speech and expression, these days a number of academics have made a U-turn on free speech, in favor of suppressing viewpoints they believe should no longer be “tolerated.”

Many American colleges and universities have helped shut down debate in the classroom. They have also chilled research and discouraged professors from presenting dissenting ideas to the general public.

A blanket of ideological conformity now covers most college campuses, and its effect on the progress of research, knowledge, and societal advancement is disastrous. We must fight back for the good of our students, for the good of our country, and for the good of our world!

We need to cancel “cancel culture”

As a conservative academic at Pepperdine School of Public Policy — who works in defense of the basic principles of Western civilization in higher education — I am a signatory to a new declaration of the importance of robust but civilized debate in our society: the “Philadelphia Statement: On Civil Discourse and the Strengthening of Liberal Democracy.”

Cosigned by academics, policy-researchers, and faith leaders, this nonprofit declaration warns, “A society that lacks comity and allows people to be shamed or intimidated into self-censorship of their ideas and considered judgments will not survive for long.”

As you may know, threats to free and civil discourse now mar almost every American academic institution.

Professors with a Christian worldview are ridiculed. Academics with conservative political opinions are shunned. Even researchers who would buck the conventional wisdom in a range of scientific fields are ostracized!

This is no way to move our society forward. All it serves to do is hold our nation — and all of humanity — back.

Thankfully, here at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, our students and professors don’t have to worry about such a climate of fear and intimidation.

We are one of the few graduate schools in the country that prepare young leaders from a decidedly conservative, Christian worldview to enter the sphere of public policy, where they will impact millions of lives for a generation to come.

We believe that ideas should stand on their own merits — not on whether they conform to the prevailing groupthink — which is why we train our students to test and evaluate every perspective with which they’re confronted. The result is our 1,000+ graduates are more resilient, more well-rounded, and better prepared for the challenges of the real world.

And, most importantly, as a graduate school, nearly every single one of them will be going into politics or government to defend our freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and the other essential liberties we cherish so dearly. They learn inside and outside of our classrooms to think critically about politics and policy.

You see, many conservative colleges prepare undergraduates to enter a range of careers. And many graduate schools churn out thousands of liberal minds every year. But the Pepperdine School of Public Policy is one of the very few graduate schools in America that prepares conservative leaders who will defend pro-freedom policy in their communities, our nation, and our world.

If you want to fight back against radical, one-world-view speech and stand up for free speech on college campuses, consider enrolling in the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. Applications are now open.

We must end the leftist “cancel culture” and ensure that students and professors with any and all viewpoints are granted their constitutionally guaranteed free speech.

But our mission doesn’t end at the edge of our campus. It extends across all of America. For the good of our colleges, our nation, and our world, we must protect viewpoint diversity.

–Pete Petersen

Applying to Pepperdine University

Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. There is no predetermined major required to study public policy, so homeschoolers can apply to Pepperdine University for the undergraduate degree of their choice and then continue their education at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. Homeschooled students must submit a transcript indicating the curriculum followed and grades obtained. Please note: due to the non-traditional nature of this type of schooling, applicants are expected to demonstrate academic proficiency through strong SAT I or ACT scores. The admission committee also looks closely at the applicant’s background of service, leadership, and character as exhibited in short answer/personal statements, as well as references and letter of recommendation.

About the Pepperdine School of Public Policy

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy prepares public leaders who can work across differences and across sectors to create sustainable policy solutions. Through a distinctive curriculum shaped by the late, great social scientist, Dr. James Q. Wilson, over two decades ago, our students learn to not only consider the quantitative aspects of policy decisions, but to also analyze politics from historical, philosophical, and faith perspectives—to employ what Dr. Wilson called our “moral sense.” The need to humanize our politics and policymaking has never been greater, which is why we say from our breathtaking campus in beautiful Malibu, California, our students “will see public policy differently from here.”

The American Project at Pepperdine University

“The American Project: On the Future of Conservatism” is a multi-year program to propel innovative ideas for reimagining the future of America’s conservative movement. The American Project is led by Pete Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Dean, and co-director Rich Tafel. “As a program founded by the likes of James Q. Wilson, Jack Kemp, and many other leading center-right leaders and scholars, Pepperdine School of Public Policy is honored to be chosen to be the home for this critical initiative,” Dean Peterson stated. “This is a critical time in our nation’s history to be considering the impact America’s conservative movement can and should have on our politics and policy.”

Pepperdine Project on Civics Education through Primary Texts

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy has always understood that the American Experiment depends on the wisdom and civic virtues of both its citizens and leaders. As Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy of the schoolhouse in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” This reality demands that our school not only educate public leaders through “the roots of American order,” but it also requires us to make available our extensive American history resources for high school teachers and students of all ages. By examining original source documents, and by setting them in the context of their time and debate, one acquires a new appreciation of these thinkers and policymakers—whether you conclude to agree with them or not—and a sense of stewardship for the society and culture in which we live.

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