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Provost issues statement on visiting scholar Satoshi Kanazawa

- The following message was delivered Dec. 13 from Provost Jonathan Holloway to the Northwestern community.

In recent days, some students, faculty, staff and alumni have expressed their concerns that the University has allowed Satoshi Kanazawa to be a visiting scholar at Northwestern while he is on sabbatical from The London School of Economics and Political Science. I find that his scholarship presents ideas that are antithetical to values that Northwestern University holds dear. 

I write to reiterate that Northwestern is firmly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and these abiding principles are fundamental to all levels of our enterprise. 

Due to the open nature of a comprehensive research university, there will unfortunately be occasions when offensive ideas emerge and when people advance arguments that run afoul of well-established, peer-reviewed research findings. When these moments arise, the first thing that must be done is to remind the community of the University’s values, standards and principles if they are at odds with these people or their research. This is such a moment. 

As I have learned more about this situation, I have discovered that the system for vetting a visiting professor in Kanazawa’s host department was weak, and that the department was unaware of Kanazawa’s controversial views or his flawed scholarship. In late October, however, as Kanazawa's views came to light, the faculty in the host department unanimously passed a motion that modified their vetting policy to include a more stringent process in the future. I applaud this change, and I expect this same level of basic rigor to be applied in every department at the University.

Professor Kanazawa is a visiting scholar with less than a year remaining. He isn’t teaching, collecting research data, or getting paid by the University. Like all guest research scholars, he is entitled to express his personal views, including on his personal web pages, as long as he does not represent such opinions as the views of the University. Kanazawa has made clear that his opinions are his own. As a member of the Northwestern community, I believe that personally held views, no matter how odious, cannot be a reason to undermine the vital principle of intellectual freedom that all academic institutions serve to protect.

Jonathan Holloway
Professor of History and African American Studies