Alan Charles Kors (Ph.D., Harvard University) teaches European intellectual history at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History.
Kors has fought for academic freedom since his arrival at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, he defended Eden Jacobowitz in the infamous “water buffalo case,” which led to the writing of The Shadow University(1998) and to the founding of FIRE, both with Harvey Silverglate. Kors has been elected five times to the University and School Committees on Academic Freedom and Responsibility by his colleagues and he served as Chair of the Committee in 2007-08. He has received two awards for distinguished college teaching and numerous awards for his defense of academic freedom. He has also written and lectured widely on the assault upon liberty and freedom of conscience on America’s campuses. In 2005, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal. In 2008, he was awarded the Jeanne Kirkpatrick Prize for the Defense of Academic Freedom, and he received the Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
Kors has published extensively on the conceptual revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, and produced three taped series on the period for The Teaching Company. He was editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (four volumes, 2002). He is married with two children and lives in suburban Philadelphia.
“The problem of free speech, both in society in general and on campus in particular, is that everyone will say ‘I believe in free speech, but…’ The problem is everyone has a different ‘But!’ exemption that they would put on free speech. So the issue really becomes, who has the power to enforce their exemptions to free speech while keeping absolute free speech for themselves?”