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Stanford University Hosts Peter Thiel For Open Exchange Speaker Series

PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- Stanford University announced it will host speakers with controversial and opposing views in order to expose the campus to diverse perspectives and to foster open exchange on campus.

Delving into diverse issues ranging from technology to populism to sexuality to the media, the new speaker series is dubbed the Cardinal Conversations.

The series kicks off in late January with a pair of Silicon Valley heavyweights with diametrically opposing political views: Peter Thiel, who donated $1.5 million to the Donald Trump presidential campaign, is scheduled to speak in conversation with fellow venture capitalist and entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, a vocal Trump critic who has contributed to Democratic political candidates.

Stanford University administrators say the aim for the speaker series is to create a forum where the campus can participate in a robust exchange of ideas. The speakers and subjects were not chosen by administrators, but were instead chosen by campus groups including Associated Students of Stanford University, Stanford Political Union and Stanford in Government.

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell say breakthroughs in understanding come from "considering a broad range of ideas, including those we might find objectionable and engaging in rigorous testing of them through analysis and debate."

The Cardinal Conversations is also an initiative between the university and its Hoover Institution, a think tank that is often described as conservative, and the university's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Upcoming speakers include conservative author Charles Murray in conversation with Stanford economist Murray Francis Fukuyama, discussing populism and inequality on February 22.

In April, journalist Anne Applebaum and former journalist Ted Koppel, as well as another speaker who is to be announced, will discuss the topic of fake news and real news.

In May, Christina Sommers, a fellow at the conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank American Enterprise Institute, will be in conversation with Andrew Sullivan, a conservative political commentator and a former editor at The New Republic. Both have raised issues concerning the ongoing #MeToo movement, which has highlighted sexual abuse by men. They are scheduled to discuss sexuality and politics.

Tickets for the first event have just gone on sale, but are only available to Stanford University ID cardholders.

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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