May 22, 2023

Announcing a University-wide Thematic Year on Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and Conversations Across the Divide

I am excited to announce that, during the upcoming 2023-24 academic year, UC Irvine will organize a wide-ranging series of programs and events designed to provide our community with a deeper understanding of the values of free expression and academic freedom. We will also model what it means for people who disagree with one another to discuss and debate their differences in a way consistent with the norms of an academic community.

This university-wide set of thematic events and programs will be co-sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and by the UC National Center on Free Speech and Civic Engagement, which is led by executive director Michelle Deutchman. It will also be enhanced by school, program and division-specific activities organized throughout the university.

Our programming for next year will offer students, faculty and staff opportunities to develop their understanding of both the legal and philosophical foundations of free expression and academic freedom and of the importance of engaging across strong differences of opinion – or conversations across the divide. This will be accomplished through a combination of:

  • university-wide “briefings” on the meaning and importance of these key concepts,
  • dialogue on ongoing debates and discussions about the meaning of free speech and academic freedom,
  • university-wide and unit-specific activities that showcase how scholarly norms should model discussions and debate among people who strongly disagree, and
  • the curation of materials useful as instructional resources or aids for further discussion.

Advising these efforts will be a steering committee comprised of UC National Center Executive Director Michelle Deutchman, Dean Austen Parrish of the School of Law, Dean Tiffany López of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, and representatives of the Academic Senate, Student Government, Staff Assembly, Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusive Excellence.

I look forward to sharing more information with you about these important efforts in the months to come.

Fiat Lux.

Chancellor Howard Gillman