The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. But the practice of free speech requires more than just the right to be free from censorship by authority. To realize the First Amendment’s ideal of a robust culture of free speech, we must boldly engage even with words and ideas we find offensive, listen respectfully, and — if necessary — explain why we disagree.
Higher education — and your campus — needs healthy, rigorous, and productive conversations. Controversial discussions have a huge potential for personal and societal growth, but we need students, staff, and faculty ready to confidently explore important ideas in a constructive environment. FIRE’s Let’s Talk: Civil Discourse Societies provide the right conditions for these kinds of big conversations — empowering students to talk to anyone and everyone on their campus about any and every idea.
Campus Let’s Talk groups have no formal connection to FIRE and will vary in size and structure. But they are united in their mission to promote free, fruitful, and civil discussions. The art of civil conversation is an important tradition and resource of a free people: the fulcrum on which a democracy can stand — or topple to the loudest and most illiberal extremes. FIRE’s Let’s Talk: Civil Discourse Societies give students the resources they need to start, maintain, and grow the openhearted and open-minded culture our democracy needs now.
Interested in starting a group? Check out our Let’s Talk leader page to learn more about what it takes to build, maintain, and preserve healthy discourse groups.
For more in-depth tips on leading group discussion, take a look at our “Spicy” Tips.