The University specified that the engagements “will be scholarly dialogues rather than discussions open to the general public”GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR

Controversial Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson is to spend between ten days and two weeks at Cambridge in November. He has been invited by Dr James Orr from the Faculty of Divinity to attend a variety of engagements and seminars.

An offer of a visiting fellowship was previously extended to Professor Peterson — who has been criticised for his views on transgender rights, the patriarchy and race — in Michaelmas 2018, but it was subsequently rescinded in March 2019 after the academic was photographed with a man wearing an Islamophobic T-shirt.

In 2019, Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope said that the professor’s “casual endorsement” by association was “antithetical” to the work of the Faculty of Divinity, a decision labelled by Professor Peterson as a “serious error of judgement.” More recently, after Toope announced plans to end his term at the helm of the University, Peterson tweeted that “Toope’s Cambridge has become a preposterous place.”

Speaking in 2019 on the rescindment of Peterson’s visiting fellowship, a University spokesperson stated: “[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.” Varsity put this to the University, asking what has changed since then. They responded with a statement emphasising that “Peterson has accepted a personal invitation from one of our senior academics.”

Regarding this year’s planned visit, the University stated that Peterson is to “participate in research seminars on the relationship between the philosophy of religion and the psychology of religion, the challenges of interpreting sacred texts, and the place of religion in society today” while in Cambridge. They specified that the engagements “will be scholarly dialogues rather than discussions open to the general public.”


Mountain View

Jordan Peterson criticises Cambridge’s decision to rescind fellowship offer

Writing in The Telegraph, Arif Ahmed MBE, a reader in philosophy at the University, claims that the visit is a “litmus test” for Cambridge, to determine whether it is “on the side of the Enlightenment or the mob.”

The news of Professor Peterson’s visit comes as debate around freedom of speech and de-platforming at universities has once again captured the attention of the national media, as the government’s Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill is debated in Parliament.

In 2019, the Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) (now reformed as the Cambridge SU), told Varsity that they were “relieved” to hear that Peterson’s fellowship had been rescinded.

Varsity has contacted the CSU for comment regarding Peterson’s renewed invitation to Cambridge.