Discovery and discourse

02-28-2006

I continue to think about how we can take advantage of recent on-campus and off-campus events to explore, educate, and learn about issues and about one another.

There is nothing more exciting and invigorating than to participate in a rich dialogue about ideas. Our intellectual exchanges here allow—indeed even demand—debate, dialogue, and intellectual tension. In this crucible, where both heat and light often are present, we test the views of others; and we test our own views, as well.

In the academic arena, using a bully pulpit is worthy; being a bully is not. Our freedom to impart our views is assured only if we recognize the equal freedom of others to impart theirs, even when—especially when—those views are at odds with our own. If one’s goal or tactic is to demean or silence others, that person’s admission to the community of learners is, to me, intellectually suspect.

I believe that meeting the challenges of today’s world requires that we employ reasoned and reasonable approaches to intellectual discovery and discourse. From Middle East tensions to Michigan ballot initiatives, from disagreements over politics and economics to disagreements over race and religion, from personal conversations to public web sites, we daily are made aware of deep divisions. But on this campus, where external tensions surely are manifested, we must be united in our commitment to learning if we truly believe in the MSU commitment to advance knowledge and transform lives.

Going from land-grant to world-grant means involving ourselves in global issues—and global dialogue. We will achieve world-grant status by building a community that respects and embraces the inclusion of a broad spectrum of ideas and a diverse community of learners.

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