Peter Wood Receives Jeane Kirkpatrick Prize for Academic Freedom

NAS

Washington, D.C. (October 18, 2019) — Peter Wood, President of the National Association of Scholars, received the Jeane Kirkpatrick Prize for Academic Freedom at a gala sponsored by Encounter Books Wednesday evening. The award, named for the champion of academic freedom and first female U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is given annually to an individual who defends “Western values against the forces of illiberalism.” 

At the gala, attendees received pre-release copies of Peter Wood’s new book, Diversity Rules, a sequel to his 2003 book Diversity: The Invention of a Concept. Diversity Rules, which will be available later this year, addresses the diversity doctrine since 2003, when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor bestowed the Supreme Court’s kiss of legitimacy on diversity. 

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Wood criticized the “dismantling of core requirements” in the college curriculum, student speech codes, bias response teams, and “corvée labor for progressive causes, which some student wags call voluntyranny.” 

“We need a safe space for controversial ideas,” Dr. Wood said. “We need a university that can entertain rational inquiry and civil discussion of ideas such as skepticism towards the diversity doctrine; catastrophic global warming; feminist theories of patriarchy; the New York Times’ 1619 thesis; and many more.” 

“At the moment, the university is pretty much the last place one would look for robust debate on any of these matters,” Dr. Wood said, observing that dissenters within the academy tend to “hold those views very, very quietly, as though cradling cups of nitroglycerin.”

The National Association of Scholars has since its founding in 1987 stood for academic freedom. In 2015, NAS published Dr. Wood’s primer, The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom. There, Dr. Wood wrote of the special connection between academic freedom and the pursuit of truth: 

Intellectual freedom uncoupled from the pursuit of truth is mere drift. It is a raft afloat in the ocean of knowledge, speculation, and imagination. The pursuit of truth gives intellectual freedom its rudder, keel, and compass, at least within the context of higher education.

The National Association of Scholars congratulates Dr. Wood on this award. 

About Peter Wood

Peter Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. He previously served as provost of The King’s College and as associate provost and the president’s chief of staff at Boston University, where he was also a tenured member of the anthropology department. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1987 from the University of Rochester, a master’s degree in library science from Rutgers University, and a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College. 

Dr. Wood is the author of Diversity Rules (Encounter Books, forthcoming 2019), A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (Encounter Books, 2007) and Diversity: The Invention of a Concept (Encounter Books, 2003) which won the Caldwell Award for Leadership in Higher Education from the John Locke Foundation. 

About the National Association of Scholars

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.


If you would like more information about this issue, please call Chance Layton at 917-551-6770, or email layton@nas.org.

Image by Levan Ramishvili

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