Universities in the Age of Trump

Free Public Lecture

Universities in the Age of Trump

At least two claims have been made against universities in the age of Trump. First, that their academics failed to predict and subsequently explain Trump’s victory. Second, that the contemporary American campus has become so unfriendly to Trump supporters it actually increased their determination to vote for him. This lecture will interrogate both claims. In doing so, we will review the state of intellectual discourse in the United States and ponder how far universities are responsible for it.

This lecture is part of a series: The Wednesday Lectures 2017: The Intelligentsia in The Age of Trump, hosted by Raimond Gaita.

It began with Brexit and entered another dimension with Donald Trump's election campaign. Many of the intelligentsia – those who choose or are required by their profession to comment on political affairs – were shocked. Hardly any anticipated that resentment, anger and even hatred could go so deep in parts of the British and American electorates almost unnoticed. When it was noticed few foresaw its transformative power.

In the case of Trump, many were incredulous that someone who had a good chance of becoming president of the US could be so radically disdainful of the practices, conventions and institutions that express and underpin democratic political civility, and pile lie upon lie so fast and shamelessly as to make the idea that reality mattered quixotic. He hasn't changed as president.

But commentators were not only shocked that they didn’t see Brexit or Trump coming. They were unsettled by a suspicion that some of the many reasons they didn’t played a significant role in ensuring that they did. Do we, even now, understand what has happened and why it did?


  • Associate Professor Timothy Lynch
    Associate Professor Timothy Lynch, Director, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences