Peterson is a Canadian academic who first gained notoriety in 2016Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Jordan Peterson, a controversial professor known for his views on transgender rights, gender, and race, was offered a visiting fellowship to join Cambridge’s Faculty of Divinity in Michaelmas this year.

The University has now rescinded the offer after “further review”.

On Monday in a livestream Q&A, Peterson announced he was joining Cambridge for two months, “and that should give me the opportunity to talk to religious experts of all types for a couple of months, as well as students.”

In a statement to Varsity, a University spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Jordan Peterson requested a visiting fellowship, and an initial offer has been rescinded after a further review.”

Peterson had also said he was interested in running a series of “maybe [...] ten or so” public lectures on the Bible — a continuation of a 15-part lecture series he ran in 2017, in Toronto.

Varsity has contacted Peterson for comment on the University’s decision.

Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, first became a household name in 2016, when he opposed an anti-discrimination bill which added gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Code, making it illegal to deny someone a job or discriminate against them in the workplace based on the gender they identify with or outwardly express. Peterson claimed the law was an infringement of free speech and said that he would refuse to use any pronoun other than ‘he’ or ‘she’, sparking protests across Toronto University’s campus. Canadian legal experts also claimed he had “fundamentally mischaracteris[ed]” the bill.

He is widely held to be “a lifestyle guru for men and boys who feel displaced by a world where white male privilege is under attack” and has amassed a large following, particularly following the publication of his book 12 Rules of Life.

In a statement to The Guardian, a University spokesperson said: “[Cambridge] is an inclusive environment and we expect all our staff and visitors to uphold our principles. There is no place here for anyone who cannot”. 

Peterson has been vocal about his controversial claim that men are victims of gender oppression, that “the west has lost faith in masculinity”, and that enforced monogamy will stop men from committing violent crimes.

Last year, he told The New York Times that the ‘incel’ responsible for an attack in Toronto which killed ten “was angry at God because women were rejecting him”, and that “[t]he cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.” Peterson has been criticised for deploying sexist stereotypes over compelling scientific evidence in his arguments around masculinity and gender roles.


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Peterson has further described the concept of white privilege as a “Marxist lie.”

He has also claimed to doubt the scientific consensus on climate change. In an interview in April 2018, he said: “Most of the global warming posturing is a masquerade for anti-capitalists to have a go at the Western patriarchy. That’s partly why the climate change thing for me is a contentious issue, because you can’t trust the players. You can’t trust the data because there is too much ideology involved.”

In a statement to Varsity, CUSU said: “We are relieved to hear that Jordan Peterson's request for a visiting fellowship to Cambridge's Faculty of Divinity has been rescinded following further review. It is a political act to associate the University with an academic's work through offers which legitimise figures such as Peterson.”

They added, “his work and views are not representative of the student body and as such we do not see his visit as a valuable contribution to the University, but one that works in opposition to the principles of the University.”

CUSU later clarified on Facebook: “When we refer to Peterson's views not being representative of the student body, we refer directly to his history of actively espousing discriminatory views towards minority groups, not to academic freedom.”

Peterson visited Cambridge in November last year to speak at The Cambridge Union. His event was interrupted by one student’s protest.

  • Updated, 20th March 2019: This article was updated to include clarification from CUSU on an aspect of their statement. It was later updated to include a further statement by the University.

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