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Why debating matters in an era of cancel culture

Wednesday 26 April 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

This event is free, but please register using the form below.

The rise of cancel culture has made many nervous about free expression and open debate. Even though academic freedom is a core value – and a legal duty – of universities, many students – and even academics – report they self-censor; student societies often encounter problems in terms of inviting diverse speakers.

In one such example of the constraints on debate and free speech on campus, last year, Academy of Ideas director, Claire Fox was invited to speak at Royal Holloway’s Debating Society. Yet an invite to talk about the importance of debate was then turned into a bureaucratic nightmare – with risk assessments, safeguarding checks and other onerous procedures enforced by the students’ union. Eventually, the students’ union successfully put the Society under pressure to cancel the event – ostensibly because Claire retweeted a clip of Ricky Gervais satirising the gender wars.

In this special Living Freedom University Salon at University of Cambridge, Claire will give the talk on ‘why debating matters’ that was intended for Royal Holloway students. This is followed by a conversation with Omar Loubak, a student and former organiser of the debating society at Royal Holloway.


Claire Fox
director, Academy of Ideas; independent peer, House of Lords; author, I STILL Find That Offensive!

Omar Loubak
Debating Society, Royal Holloway University of London

James Orr
associate professor of Philosophy of Religion, University of Cambridge

Newton Room, The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RP



Wednesday 26 April 2023
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


Cambridge University – The Pitt Building, Trumpington St,
Cambridge, United Kingdom