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The idea that diversity has value in learning, civic engagement, commerce, and science, countering the aphorism that “great minds think alike,” is often thought of as a recent phenomenon. My work is intended to demonstrate that the roots of our current understanding of the value of diversity actually run quite deep. The founding of the University of Berlin in 1810 by Wilhelm von Humboldt on a model of experiential learning was closely tied to the decision to admit Catholics and Jews as faculty and students, in order to encourage outsider voices and the resulting clash of ideas. By the mid-nineteenth century a similar process was underway at Oxford and Cambridge, as they opened their doors to nonconformist Protestants as well as Jews and Catholics. The work of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill contributed to the mid-century expansion of the belief that we benefit from a market filled with diverse ideas, and that such diversity requires paying attention to the lived experience of outsiders. Humboldt and the Mills had a profound impact on Charles Elioit, the transformative president of Harvard. When he began his forty year term in 1869 he began admitting Blacks, Catholics, Jews, immigrants, the poor, and eventually women (by founding Radcliffe College), as part of his quest to encourage a clash of ideas. Thus, when we say that American colleges began their affirmative action policies in the sixties, we mean the 1860s. But the US Supreme Court is on the verge of ruling that diversity efforts that consider race or ethnicity violate the U.S. Constitution. Similar rulings about corporate DEI policies may soon follow, as the court takes the side of an increasingly vocal right wing that has declared war on diversity.