Educating for Democracy in Undemocratic Contexts: Avoiding the Zero-Sum Game of Campus Free Speech Versus Inclusion

  • Academic Freedom , Free Speech & Inclusion
  • Staff Writing , Journal Articles & Chapters

Abstract: The debate over free speech and inclusion in higher education is not new, but it has reached new levels of vitriol and confusion as legislators and others beyond the academy argue for unfettered speech. Mandating speech rights on campuses undercuts decades of learning around diversity, inclusion, and equity in higher education and in public life by mainstreaming undemocratic forces in some factions in U.S. society that thrive on creating divisiveness and fear of “the other.” Those with an absolutist perspective take a zero-sum game approach by pitting the important American principles of equality and community against the equally important principles of freedom and individualism. Not only is this an unnecessary choice, but it infringes on academic freedom and the right of academics to decide how best to educate for the health and future of democracy. Academic content, standards, norms, and pedagogy should be based on educational goals and objectives. The solution lies in fostering discussion about democratic principles and practices as well as a sense of shared responsibility among members of a campus community for student learning and success.

Article published in the eJournal of Public Affairs, available at link below.

External Link