The University of Chicago has become well-known in recent years for promoting freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas. The university is the institutional author of the “Chicago Statement,” the gold standard for campus free speech policy statements now adopted by over 50 universities and faculty bodies nationwide. It also hosts regular programming on free expression issues, and boasts university leadership and faculty who actively support free speech.
Keeping with this admirable focus, the University of Chicago Law School announced this week that a gift from Professor Martha C. Nussbaum will support the law school’s roundtable initiative. The roundtable discussions among law students and faculty cover contentious legal topics in an effort to promote engaged and thoughtful dialogue. UChicago News, reporting on the development, quoted Professor Nussbaum describing why she decided to fund the roundtable discussions with her gift: “I was both impressed and moved by the seriousness, civility and acuteness of the students, their capacity to listen, and their willingness to seek consensus. So I decided to use my gift to underwrite that program going forward."
FIRE is always pleased to see universities, faculty, and students embracing free expression by engaging in conversations about challenging and oftentimes divisive topics. Free speech programs, such as the roundtable discussions at the University of Chicago Law School, are a great way to cultivate and improve the climate for debate and inquiry on campus. Other universities such as Claremont McKenna College, the University of Oregon, and Purdue University have opted to encourage freedom of expression through university dialogues, speaker series, freshman orientation programs, and more, and we hope that 2019 sees more institutions following suit.
Does your college or university promote free expression through programming? We want to hear about it! Contact us here.