By their very nature, universities invite robust discussion and conflicts over thorny issues. The notion of academic freedom extends as far back as the academic charter of the University of Bologna in the middle of the twelfth century, and clashes over ideas and ideologies have been integral to the cultures and missions of universities ever since.
However, at times, these conflicts have grown more than heated, turned violent, even deadly. And, in recent years, universities have been chosen as sites by provocateurs to stir passions, stage protests, enrage communities, and stir unrest. What, then, is the responsibility of the academy? How do we maintain safe spaces for civil, rigorous debate while holding to principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech?
NHC Position Statement
The National Humanities Center has not issued an official statement concerning this issue.
Find out how you can get informed, get involved, and take action on this and other issues.
What the experts are saying:
- Why left and right both get the meaning of academic freedom wrong (Judith Friedlander, The Washington Post, 2/10/19)
- Free Speech and Civility (John McGowan, Public Intelligence, 4/4/18)
- The End of Academe: Free Speech and the Silencing of Dissent (Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/21/18)
- Protecting Freedom of Speech Where It Matters Most, On the College Campus (Orrin Hatch, National Review, 2/7/18)
- Hate Speech is Protected Speech, Even on College Campuses (Erwin Chemerinsky, Vox, 12/26/17)
- A Chilling Study Shows How Hostile College Students Are Toward Free Speech (Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post, 9/18/17)
- College Students Clash Repeatedly Over Free Speech Issues (Rachel Martin with Suzanne Nossel, NPR’s Morning Edition, 12/25/17)
- Is Free Speech Really Challenged on Campus? (Julian E. Zelizer and Morton Keller, The Atlantic, 9/15/17)
- The New Campus Censors (David Bromwich, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/5/17)
- When Free Speech Becomes a Political Weapon (Kate Manne and Jason Stanley, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/13/15)
- The Coddling of the American Mind (Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic, 9/15)
Research & Resources
Materials for further exploration:
- Campus Free Expression: A New Roadmap (Bipartisan Policy Center, 2021)
- Brookings Institution Study: Views Among College Students Regarding the First Amendment (2017)
- Statement from the American Association of University Professors: On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes (1994)
- Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
- Bill of Rights Institute: Educator Resources