Whose Freedom, Whose Speech? Creating Campuses for All Voices

Thursday, March 19, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Pre-conference Institute Presented in Partnership with PEN America

Separate registration and fee required ($230 per person from an AAC&U member campus; $280 per person for non-members). Includes lunch and reception.


De-platforming speakers.  The mention of racial slurs as part of pedagogy.  Trigger Warnings.  Taboo topics.  Controversies over curriculum and canons.  Hateful messages.  Safe spaces.  Student protests. Open dialogue. 

In recent years, colleges and universities have become proxies for a set of national conflicts writ large over free speech, diversity, equity and inclusion. How should campus actors make sense of these challenges? How can they balance obligations to these precepts?

This one-day institute, organized by PEN America, will provide crucial context for this national debate, as well as practical and principled guidance for faculty, administrators and campus leaders. Through interactive workshops and symposia, the institute will equip attendees with guidance for balancing free speech and inclusion across a range of scenarios, from protests and invited speakers, to ideological clashes in the classroom. 

Program sessions will cover:

  • Free speech principles and the First Amendment
  • How campuses can confront hate without infringing on speech
  • Academic freedom and faculty harassment
  • Invited speakers and campus protests
  • Facilitating dialogue across difference and managing class discussions
  • Promoting free speech and inclusion proactively
  • Encouraging expression among students from diverse backgrounds

Participants will receive a complimentary one-year Reader Membership to PEN America (more details available at www.pen.org/membership).