'Cancelled’ university professor creates ‘faculty for common sense’ at rival institution to fight ‘wokeness’

2 October 2023, 11:55 | Updated: 2 October 2023, 13:22

A London-based Masters course is planned to be implemented by 2024/25 on the Politics of Culture to explore "the interplay between the woke left and populist right".
A London-based Masters course is planned to be implemented by 2024/25 on the Politics of Culture to explore "the interplay between the woke left and populist right". Picture: Alamy, Getty, Wikimedia Commons
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

The former head of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London, is launching a 'war on woke' by founding a 'faculty of common sense' at the 'best' university for freedom of expression.

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Professor Eric Kaufmann, 53, is hoping to combat cancel culture at UK universities by creating a centre for Heterodox (non-confomist) Social Science at the University of Buckingham.

He hopes it will be a globally recognised centre to research culture wars and 'woke' attitudes to subjects such as trans rights and critical race theory.

On Twitter/X, he posted a thread explaining what the course is and why he left Birkbeck University.

He said: "After 20 years, I am leaving a full University of London professorship for the University of Buckingham.

"In January, I launch a new low-cost online course open to the public on Woke: the Origins, Dynamics and Implications of an Elite Ideology."

In the thread, he stated that the University's "uncertain financial position played a role" but that he was also "repelled by cancel culture and attracted by the chance to help build Buckingham as the "only 'free speech university' in Britain".

He added: "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."

Professor Kaufmann describes himself as a liberal conservative.
Professor Kaufmann describes himself as a liberal conservative. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

He aims to research on topics and perspectives that "are difficult or hazardous in the contemporary university."

The Professor added: "This can begin to help restore truth, rebalance academia, and help it regain the trust it is losing among many."

He is also looking to implement a London-based master's course by 2024/25 on the Politics of Culture to explore "the interplay between the woke left and populist right".

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He added that "the goal is to have a politically balanced intake, to minimize self-censorship" and cited the US on how this aim is "vital."

This move comes after a five-year campaign to oust him from Birkbeck, Professor Kaufmann claims.

He said that his right-leaning views on national identity and ethnicity, and left-wing ideology on religion, made him unpopular at Birkbeck.

 Fellow academics at Birkbeck University reportedly avoided Professor Kaufmann to avoid being cancelled by association
Fellow academics at Birkbeck University reportedly avoided Professor Kaufmann to avoid being cancelled by association. Picture: Alamy

He quit in August after a 20-year career.

The professor said: "I was cancelled by 1,000 cuts. Academia should be about the advancement of knowledge, but you're not allowed to advance theories which go against the progressive narrative.

"If you have a different viewpoint, you're in the crosshairs."

Professor Kaufmann is half Jewish, a quarter Chinese, and a quarter Costa Rican. He said he has been labelled a white supremacist and a racist apologist for holding 'liberal conservative' views.

He has faced numerous pushbacks from students and Birkbeck University, including being criticised on social media by students and fellow academics avoiding him to steer clear of cancellation by association.

Professor Kaufmann co-authored the 2021 think tank report which was a source for the academic freedom bill.

This new law will protect dissenting voices in Britain's higher education sector.

The University of Buckingham has been voted the best for free speech, according to The National Student Survey.
The University of Buckingham has been voted the best for free speech, according to The National Student Survey. Picture: Getty

However, even with the protections the new law would bring, Professor Kaufman decided to move on to The University of Buckingham.

This institution is one of the not-for-profit private universities that is climbing the ranks.

According to this year's National Student Survey, the university is the best for freedom of expression.

On Sunday evening, a spokesman for Birkbeck said: "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.

"Professor Kaufmann left Birkbeck at his own request as part of a restructure supporting the reorganisation of our academic departments.

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