A Practice in Courage and Humility

How do we know what topics require the careful consideration of multiple viewpoints and which topics we can consider fully resolved? 

To be clear, promoting a Marketplace of Ideas does not mean that we abandon any limits to what ideas are welcome in our community. At UNE, freedom of expression does not extend to speech that is meant to incite hatred or violence. The spirit of open inquiry does not extend to matters on which the consensus of the academic and scientific world is overwhelmingly settled and correct — for example, the world is not flat; slavery and genocide are unacceptable. 

But short of those kinds of absolutes, there are gray areas — the boundaries between ideas that are worthy of consideration and those that are not. 

Because we live in a world of increasingly deep divisions, where consensus — and even a shared sense of “reality” — seem harder and harder to come by, we cultivate our Marketplace of Ideas in a spirit of humility and open-minded exploration. We don’t always know what we don’t know.

Two students review a money market graph on a whiteboard
Student speaking at a UNE event
Professor speaking to students in a classroom
Student speaking at a UNE event
Dr. Cassia Mizuno speaking to pharmacy students

We are aware that this practice entails a certain amount of risk, and we are wary of purveyors of hatred, confusion, and untruth. We embrace discomfort, recognizing that it is often a sign of intellectual and personal growth. Because knowledge is additive, we choose to err on the side of inclusion. And when we make occasional — and inevitable — mistakes, we will be open to feedback from our colleagues and our community.  

Practicing our principles entails an awareness of the complex and fuzzy boundaries that separate ideas that are on the menu for discussion from those that don’t merit our attention. We approach each conversation with the intellectual humility and courage to engage constructively with a wide range of ideas, including those that we may find distasteful or offensive.