I’m Chris Eisgruber, president of Princeton University, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you, the great Princeton Class of 2021, to this University. I’m looking forward to welcoming you in person, come September. I’ve heard a lot from Janet Rapelye and her team about what you’ve done before coming to Princeton, about your extraordinary talents and your achievements, and you’re going to be wonderful additions to this campus.
Today, I want to talk to you a bit about the Pre-read, an important tradition that you’ll be a part of when you arrive on campus. For this year’s Princeton Pre-read, I’ve chosen a book by one of Princeton’s own faculty members, Professor Jan-Werner Müller, of our Department of Politics. The book is entitled What is Populism?, and it deals with some issues that are very important in the United States today, and indeed, throughout the world. I hope that What is Populism? will be exciting and interesting to you, because it connects to arguments that are important in the world today and that will be important for years to come.
As people look at a set of unexpected political events in countries around the world, they often use the idea of populism to describe what’s happening. That’s true about the recent election in the United States; it’s true about Brexit in the United Kingdom; it’s true about countries as different as Hungary, India and Venezuela. Jan-Werner Müller in his book looks at the concept of populism and tries to explain exactly what it means and how it illuminates what’s going on, when we should use it, and when we should not.
I look forward to welcoming you to our campus in September and having conversations with you about Jan-Werner Müller’s book What is Populism? and many other aspects of your Princeton education.
To the great Class of 2021, welcome to Princeton.