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Scholars to Engage Issues of Academic Free Speech and Campus Civility at Provost Forum

David Brooks to deliver keynote address at March 1 forum

Provost Forum poster

New York Times columnist David Brooks and several noted international scholars will join Duke faculty and administrators for a one-day public conference exploring the tensions between free speech, academic freedom and campus civility and community on March 1.

The Provost Forum on Inquiry, Expression and Community in the University will put “difficult issues on the table,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth, including discussions about campus protests and how pursuit of knowledge can promote other values such as campus citizenship and an appreciation for human difference.

Kornbluth said she wanted the conference to reflect “the message and ethos for which we would like Duke to be known.”

“The theme of the forum aligns well with the aspirations and goals of our Strategic Plan ‘Together Duke: Advancing Excellence through Community,’” Kornbluth said. “To continue to provide a world class education for all students and empower all our faculty to produce transformational research, it is imperative that we foster an environment where we, as members of the Duke community, can engage in robust discussions and debates that welcome different opinions and views, but that are also constructive and respectful.”

“In our country, and in the world around us, we are unfortunately seeing forces that thrive on accentuating polarization, while at the same we see a yearning and thirst for ways to engage constructively across divides to find common ground. Duke should be a leader in this effort,” Kornbluth said.

Brooks, who in addition to his writing for the New York Times is a commentator on PBS, NPR and NBC’s Meet the Press, will deliver the keynote address.

The forum schedule and speakers include:

  • Academic Freedom and the Mission of the University: David F. Levi, Duke Law School, moderator; Erwin Chemerinsky, Berkeley Law; and Ranjana Khanna, Franklin Humanities Institute.
  • Civil Discourse Across Divides: Peter Feaver, Duke Department of Political Science, moderator; Teresa Bejan, University of Oxford; Celeste Headlee, author of “We Need to Talk”; and Frederick Mayer, Sanford School of Public Policy.
  • Assembly, Protest and Shared SpacesBenjamin Reese, Duke vice president of institutional equity, moderator; Karen Anderson, ACLU of North Carolina; Luke Bretherton, Duke Divinity School; Zareena Grewal, Yale University; and Michael Sorrell, Duke alumnus and president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas.

In 2017, the Provost’s Forum involved activists, scholars, law enforcement officers, and experts to help us better understand tensions between law enforcement and people of color.

All events are free, but registration is required. Registration information can be found here.