Free speech at universities

UVA student protest at Garrett Hall

Democracy Dialogues

Free speech at universities

Thursday, November 09, 2023
1:00PM - 2:15PM (EST)
Event Details

While freedom of speech is a core tenet of American democracy, it has long been the object of intense controversy. When it comes to protecting free speech in practice, education often serves as democracy’s testing grounds.

In this “Democracy Dialogues” event, experts take a close look at how free speech relates to academic freedom at universities, examining different perspectives on whether and how to protect all forms of speech on college campuses and demonstrating the importance of having deliberative dialogue around free speech issues in education.

The “Democracy Dialogues” series is produced by the UVA Karsh Institute of Democracy, co-sponsored by the Miller Center, and made possible thanks to the generous support of the UVA Office of the President, the George and Judy Marcus Democracy Praxis Fund, Ingrid and David Hang, and James B. Murray Jr. The goal of “Democracy Dialogues” is to strengthen democracy through civil debate.

Thursday, November 09, 2023
1:00PM - 2:15PM (EST)
UVA's Rotunda
Jennifer Ruth headshot

Jennifer Ruth

Jennifer Ruth is a professor of film in the College of the Arts at Portland State University. A member of the American Association of University Professors Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, she writes on higher education issues for the Academe magazine blog. She has published numerous academic articles and writes for national publications such as The New Republic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Ms. magazine. Ruth is the coauthor, with Michael Bérubé, of It's Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom (2022) and The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments (2015). She is also the author of Novel Professions: Interested Disinterest and the Making of the Professional in the Victorian Novel (2006). She graduated with a BA from Swarthmore College and holds a PhD in English literature from Brown University.

Jonathan Zimmerman headshot

Jonathan Zimmerman

Jonathan Zimmerman is the Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. His work as an education historian examines education practices and policies, as well as myths that cloud the understanding of teaching and learning. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, Zimmerman has written for a variety of academic publications and also the New York Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Review of Books, and The Atlantic. He is co-editor of the Histories of American Education book series at Cornell University Press and the History and Philosophy of Education series at the University of Chicago Press. Zimmerman has authored several books, including Whose America?:  Culture Wars in the Public Schools (2022). He holds a BA in urban studies from Columbia University and an MA and PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University.

Jered Cooper headshot

Jered Cooper (student speaker)

Jered Cooper currently attends the University of Virginia. A fourth year, he is a government major with a deep passion for understanding the inner workings of politics and public policy. His love for American history has been a driving force throughout his academic journey, as he finds inspiration in exploring the narratives of the past. He is a writer for the Virginia Undergraduate Law Review and a co-host for Bipodisan, a new student-run podcast that seeks to build consensus across the aisle and encourage healthy political dialogue. Cooper's future professional goals include attending law school to study constitutional theory and interpretation.

Leslie Kendrick headshot

Leslie Kendrick (moderator)

Leslie Kendrick is the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs and the Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. She serves as special advisor to the provost on free expression and inquiry. In 2021, she chaired the committee that produced the University’s Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry, which was endorsed by the president and adopted by the UVA Board of Visitors. Kendrick received a BA in classics and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s and doctorate in English literature as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, and a JD from the UVA School of Law. Before joining the UVA faculty in 2008, Kendrick clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Justice David Hackett Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ian Baucom headshot

Ian Baucom (introduction)

Ian B. Baucom is the executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia. Before becoming provost in 2022, Baucom served for eight years as the Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University. Baucom came to UVA after serving 17 years in Duke University’s department of English as a professor and as the director of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. He spent his early childhood in South Africa during the country’s apartheid era, where his parents ran adult literacy programs for mine workers. Baucom earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Wake Forest University and holds a master’s degree in African studies and a doctorate in English, both from Yale University.