Nineteen scholars spanning a variety of disciplines were named members of the inaugural academic advisory board for the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.
Advisory board members will help develop the center’s future projects and will play a role in choosing the center’s next set of fellows. The board members will also be able to share written pieces of their prior work and research on the center’s website, according to a press release from UC Newsroom.
According to the center’s executive director Michelle Deutchman, these advisory members will “shape the national conversation of free expression in higher education.”
Deutchman said the next call for fellows will be in February, and the advisory board will act as liaisons between their university and the fellow that is in residence for one week on their campus, providing more structure to the fellow selection and implementation process.
According to a press release written last February by Tom Vasich, director of media relations at UC Irvine, the center introduced its first 10 fellows — a group made up of scholars, students and analysts across the nation — last year.
According to the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement’s website, the center provides fellows with a stipend to conduct research, offer seminars and mentor students. The center supports fellows, allowing them to spend one week in residence at each of the ten UC campuses where they engage with students and the community and discuss their research. Topic discussions range from students’ views on free speech to the various ways this idea has been explored by different generations.
The center explores the fundamental democratic principles and challenges of free speech and civic engagement in today’s society in order to build knowledge for the next generation through discussion and research, leading to further exploration of the “meaning and role of free speech on college campuses,” according to the center’s website.
Michael Cohen, a UC Berkeley associate teaching professor and academic adviser board member, said he went to a meeting in Irvine last week, where the board discussed the center’s future projects and goals “moving forward.” Cohen added that it is important to recognize and think about free speech in the 21st century, as opposed to using the same approach from 1964.
“I hope this institution can explore the deep issues and questions at stake for free speech on modern campus,” Cohen said.
Deutchman said the challenge is to listen to one another and engage with people to showcase “robust inquiry” which can “benefit society at large,” even if there aren’t any definitive answers. Deutchman added that the center is an incredible opportunity.
“I’m really looking forward to collaborate (with) stakeholders to hold out for an influential and effective center that can … create additional ways to focus on the issue and how to struggle with some of the challenges that speech is handled today,” Deutchman said.
According to the UC Newsroom press release, the center will hold its first national conference “#SpeechMatters: The Future of Free Expression on Campus,” March 21 at the UCDC offices in Washington D.C. where elected officials and university leaders will explore “the critical role of First Amendment in American democracy.”