Letter in support of Central European University - Brubaker, Horowitz, Joppke, Kymlicka, Stewart

April 4, 2017

Letter in support of Central European University


Mr. Zoltán Balog

Minister of Human Capacities

1054 Budapest

Akadémia utca 3



Dear Minister Balog,

We are writing as researchers and teachers who have had the privilege of teaching in the Nationalism Studies program at the Central European University. We know firsthand the unique contribution that the CEU has made and continues to make to circuits of intellectual exchange in Europe and beyond. As students of nationalism, we are acutely aware that the quality of teaching and research – and of intellectual life more generally – depends on the free flow of ideas across national boundaries.

We are therefore deeply concerned about the proposed amendments to Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education.  It is transparently clear that these amendments, though couched in general language, target the CEU and have no other purpose than to prevent it from operating in Hungary. The comments of Prime Minister Orbán, who publicly accused the CEU of “cheating” (csalás) in a Friday radio program, underscore the targeting of the CEU.

In its quarter-century of operation, the CEU has built up a stellar faculty and attracted an extraordinarily talented student body.   The teaching, research, and public events sponsored by the university have greatly enriched the intellectual and cultural life of Budapest, Hungary, and Europe. It would be a dark day indeed – and a grave blow against the principle of academic freedom and the practice of free and open intellectual exchange – if the University were forced to cease its operations in Budapest as a result of this petty and vindictive campaign. It is a campaign that is entirely unworthy of Hungary, a country with a rich and vibrant intellectual and academic tradition that CEU has been helping to carry forward into the twenty-first century.

We therefore respectfully urge you to reconsider this proposed legislation. 

Yours sincerely,

Rogers Brubaker

Professor of Sociology and UCLA Foundation Chair

University of California, Los Angeles


Donald L. Horowitz

James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science Emeritus

Duke University


Christian Joppke

Professor of Sociology and Director of Institute of Sociology

University of Bern


Will Kymlicka

Canada Research Chair in Political Philosophy
Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada


Michael Stewart
Professor of Social Anthropology and Vice Dean for Enterprise 
Founding Director Open City Documentary Festival

University College, London

CC: Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary; Office of the Prime Minister; Central European University