Navigate Attacks on Expression & Preserve Academic Freedom in the Modern University
Faculty expression, both inside and outside the classroom, is increasingly under attack from critics on both the right and the left of the political divide. When faculty members are targeted for their speech on a particular topic, college and university leaders are often pressured to respond immediately. Change.org petitions, social media campaigns, and intervention by trustees or political leaders can put great pressure on senior campus administrators, faculty senate chairs, school deans, department chairs, and others to respond in ways that may be inconsistent with academic freedom or other expressive rights. However, some faculty expression may not be protected speech or otherwise within the scope of academic freedom as currently understood. In such cases, leaders may strongly disagree on the right institutional response.
Engage in a candid discussion of the short and long-term stakes in play for an institution of higher education when faculty expression is targeted for its content. Frank discussion of the internal and external pressures leaders may face when faculty expressive speech goes viral, and the risks that come with specific types of responses will take place. You’ll also gain perspective from an overview of illustrative cases showing what actions were appropriate and which may not have been, from both the lens of academic freedom and legal or reputational considerations (which may be quite different).
Improve your understanding of the scope of academic freedom and other protected faculty expression, strategize proactively on how your institution might respond if faculty expression becomes the target of a public attack, and what to do when expressive activity falls outside the scope of academic freedom and protected speech.
Get crucial, actionable takeaways that will help you:
- Improve your understanding of the scope of academic freedom accorded to faculty in institutions of higher education and actions that can chill exercise of that freedom – successfully make the necessary distinction in some cases between defense of expressive rights and defense of the content of the expression.
- Quickly assess the content of challenged faculty expression and determine whether it constitutes protected expression – be ready to quickly defend the faculty member’s expressive rights and what to do when it falls outside the scope of academic freedom and protected speech.
- Develop options for institutional, departmental or individual peer response to a campaign targeting a specific faculty member’s speech – strategize proactively on how your institution might respond if faculty expression becomes the target of a public attack.
- Strategies for supporting faculty whose speech (verbal or written/electronic) is targeted by groups inside or outside the institution, particularly non-tenure track or adjunct faculty – develop a clear statement of institutional values and deploy it in responding to attacks on faculty expression.
- Prepare to address threats of violence and incendiary language targeting faculty members because of their expressive activity.
Allen Groves serves Syracuse University as Senior Vice President for the Student Experience, the chief student affairs officer of the University.
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Included When You Purchase
- 90-minute online session with carefully selected expert(s)
- Unlimited access to view webinar recording on demand
- Materials for your team (handouts, discussion questions, etc.)
- Certificate of completion for each participant
- Weekly newsletter – What's Working on Campus
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