The University of Buckingham launches The Centre of Heterodox Social Science

23 February 2024

The University of Buckingham launched The Centre of Heterodox Social Science on February 22 2024. The centre, led by Professor Eric Kaufmann, will set out with a vision of redressing balance in academia.

The University of Buckingham was founded on ideals of academic independence, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor James Tooley explains:

“The launch of this new centre speaks to the University’s legacy and to its future supporting academic independence.”

The Centre of Heterodox Social Science will be guided by the values of autonomy, independence, and freedom in academia and freedom of speech. The US has some 150 research centres with a classical liberal ethos, until today nothing of this kind existed in Britain.

James Tooley, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham explains:

“Universities matter. They set the tone and incubate ideas for the whole of society. I believe without academic freedom and knowledge, progress does not happen. Buckingham academics will ask the questions that should be asked.”

Academic independence was one of The University’s founding principles and something that will be fostered even more in coming years; it is at the heart of the University’s current strategy. The new centre will pursue social science and humanities research on topics, or from perspectives, that are difficult or hazardous in the contemporary university. For example, a new low-cost online course is already running, led by Professor Kaufmann, studying the origins and intellectual history of progressive illiberalism, also known as ‘wokeism.’

In 2024-25 The University of Buckingham will also establish a London-based Master’s course on the Politics of Cultural Conflict, led by Professor Eric Kaufmann, exploring the interplay between the woke left and populist right. The goal is to have a politically balanced intake, to minimise self-censorship.

The University’s Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech is in development, overseen by the Pro Vice-Chancellor. This guidance will define the parameters of what free speech is in practice at the University, alongside the limits prescribed by UK Law.

The University was created in the 70s as an antidote to the undermining of independence and academic freedoms in universities.