Free Expression Resources & Perspectives
A collection of diverse research, frameworks, articles, and statements on free expression and critical inquiry in higher education.
Research and Resources
America + Civic Language from Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) Civic Language Perceptions Project
Provides insights into the barriers we can unknowingly create by using inaccessible or ill-defined terminology, and the opportunities available by understanding a community’s language.
Beyond Free Speech: Fostering Civic Engagement at the Intersection of Diversity and Expression from National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, University of California
Findings from research on an examination of the intersection of diversity and speech on U.S. college and university campuses.
Building Bridges in the Context of Inequality from The Constructive Dialogue Institute & the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship and American Identity Program
Grapples with critiques of bridge-building across the growing political divide, with the hope that it will spur sustained discussion within and across the bridge-building and social justice communities.
Campus Free Expression: A New Roadmap from Bipartisan Policy Center
Explores the factors that have made free expression fraught and offers recommendations about fostering a campus culture of robust intellectual exchange, open inquiry, and free expression.
College Student Views on Free Expression and Campus Speech 2022 from Knight Foundation
This Knight Foundation-Ipsos report offers nuanced insight into how college students perceive campus speech and First Amendment protections today, including how views are evolving within different factions of the student body.
From Civic Education to a Civic Learning Ecosystem from The Institute for Citizens & Scholars
Provides a framework for conceptualizing and discussing shared goals and urges funders, educators, researchers and the general public to develop a new, more robust conception of civic learning that goes well beyond the high school civics class.
Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape from More in Common
Landmark study, based on a representative survey of 8,000 Americans in 2018, finds that rather than being divided 50-50 between two opposing political groups, American society today consists of seven distinctive groups, most of whom are deeply concerned by the country’s growing polarization.
Reclaiming the Culture of Higher Ed from Heterodox Academy
Practices, approaches, and ideas for embracing these values no matter where they find themselves on campus.
Self-Censorship or Just Being Nice from National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, University of California
Explores college students’ moral reasoning around free expression issues in the classroom.
Transforming Conflict on College Campuses from Aspen Institute
Describes the undercurrent of conflict and surfaces promising directions for addressing conflict on campus.
Understanding Campus Expression Across Higher Ed from Heterodox Academy
Assesses the state of campus expression from the student perspective across US campuses.
Perspectives and Articles
A Case Study in Civil Discourse from Princeton Alumni Weekly
Princeton’s response to community members’ call to disinvite and condemn Mohammed El-Kurd’s invitation to speak on campus, highlighting the importance of civil discourse and free expression.
How I Liberated My College Classroom from The Wall Street Journal
Results of a special seminar to discuss controversial issues freely.
I Came to College Eager for Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead from The New York Times
Opinion piece in which a University of Virginia senior describes her experience with self-censorship, proposed causes, effects on student confidence in discussions, and the role that universities must take to encourage free expression.
The Moral Center Is Fighting Back on Elite College Campuses from The New York Times
Extremist attacks on free speech (from right and left) degrade American democracy, and those attacks are especially acute on college campuses.
Not So Fast on Campus Self-Censorship from Inside Higher Ed
Why we need to think a bit more before we speak regarding self-censorship on campus and how they plan to engage students about this topic.
On Critics and Bullies from Heterodox Academy
Dives into what differentiates a critic from a bully, regardless of the cause.
Preamble: Roslyn Clark Artis & Jonathan Holloway from Institute for Citizens & Scholars
The role of higher education in preparing students for civic life and citizenship.
President Speaks: Why Free Speech and Diversity and Inclusion go hand-in-hand on Campus from Higher Ed Dive
DePauw University President draws on her commitment to free speech from growing up in a diverse working-class neighborhood.
The Safe Space That Became a Viral Nightmare from The New York Times
An argument at Arizona State’s multicultural center spiraled into a disaster for everyone involved.
Speech Matters Podcast from National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, University of California
Features thought leaders tackling the most pressing issues impacting free expression and democracy on campus and beyond.
The Two Clashing Meanings of ‘Free Speech’ from The Atlantic
Today’s campus controversies reflect a battle between two distinct conceptions of the term—what the Greeks called isegoria and parrhesia.
University Leaders Must Defend Freedom Against DeSantis’ Overreach from The Times Higher Education
Higher education leaders are often reluctant to enter the political realm, but now this prudence carries the stench of cowardice.
Why Education Independence is Important from Orlando Business Journal
The president of Rollins College sees the broader issues of the government putting its weight on higher education in Florida.
Yes, DEI Can Erode Academic Freedom. Let’s Not Pretend Otherwise from The Chronicle of Higher Education
Discusses the effect that DEI, an organizational framework that seeks to promote the fair treatment and full participation of all people, is harmful to minorities and academic freedom.
Speeches and Statements
“Champions of Higher Education Statement of Purpose” from PEN America
More than a hundred former college and university presidents sign on to a statement about the centrality of free expression to higher education and the importance of protecting it.
“Chicago Principles” from The Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago
Statement that reflects the long-standing and distinctive values of the University of Chicago and affirms the importance of maintaining and, indeed, celebrating those values for the future.
“Commencement Address 2023” from Wellesley College
President Johnson emphasizes polarization invites the use of brute power, rather than deliberation, to settle disagreements.
“Letter from the Dean” from Stanford Law School
Comments by Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez on the disruption of Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan’s speech at a student Federalist Society event on March 9, 2023, and the school’s response to that disruption.
“Statement on Academic Freedom” from Wesleyan University
President Michael Roth issued a statement reiterated that Wesleyan’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas and pursuit of knowledge.