Free and Civil Discourse: Challenges and Imperatives

Posted by Association of American Colleges and Universities on August 28, 2017

Diversity & Democracy, Spring/Summer 2017Vol. 20, No. 2/3

What is the relationship between free speech and civil discourse? Which voices are heard in what contexts? And what are the implications for inclusive learning environments? This issue explores these questions and more, with a focus on how colleges and universities across the country are navigating current events.

From the Editor

Free and Civil Discourse: Challenges and Imperatives

  • Speech, Spectacle, and Looking Closely for What One Cannot See
    AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella explores the complexities of free speech on campus
  • Toward a Democratic Speech Environment
    Hampshire College’s Christopher Tinson and Javiera Benavente examine how campuses can serve as sites of justice-seeking conversation and discourse
  • Bridging the American Political Divide: The Role of Higher Education in Advancing Civil Discourse
    CSU Monterey Bay President Eduardo Ochoa writes about modeling respectful, inquiry-based dialogue across differences
  • The Role of Governing Boards in Addressing Campus Tensions
    AGB’s Susan Whealler Johnston describes how governing boards can engage in current issues


  • Free Speech is Not Enough
    Robert Quinn of the Scholars at Risk Network and NYU calls for more speech, but also more nuance and more inclusivity
  • Owning Your Own Mind
    Leslie Wong and Alison Sanders of San Francisco State University reflect on modeling the practices associated with liberal education
  • Practicing Peace on a Weaponized Campus
    Lisa Moore describes creating space for intellectual risk-taking at UT Austin

Campus Practice

  • This Is Who We Say We Are
    Drake University President Emeritus David Maxwell reflects on addressing campus conflicts
  • Community Days of Learning: Building Capacity for Challenging Conversations
    Kimberly Cassidy and Ruth Lindeborg describe a powerful campus-wide experience at Bryn Mawr
  • World Ready: Incorporating Interfaith Learning into General Education
    Esther Boyd and Katie Cruger make the case for identity formation and dialogue across difference in a first-year course
  • A Whole-Institution Approach to Civic Engagement
    Michael Sorrell discusses embracing core beliefs and values through institutional practice at Paul Quinn College

Presidential Statement

  • Free Expression, Liberal Education, and Inclusive Excellence
    A statement from AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella

Diversity & Democracy supports higher education faculty and leaders as they design and implement programs that advance civic learning and democratic engagement, global learning, and experiences with diversity to prepare students for socially responsible action in today’s interdependent but unequal world.

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