Freedom of Speech on Campus

Free Speech Rally
Universities are bastions of inquiry, where ideas are both nurtured and challenged. But what should we do when the freedom to speak and debate conflicts with the need to provide a safe learning environment? How do we cope with ideologies we find intolerable and speakers who seek to inflame our communities?

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.

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