Provost Forum

Testing the University: Speech, Freedom, and Civility on College Campuses
Provost Forum on Inquiry, Expression, and Community in the University

Principles of academic freedom and free speech are central to a university’s identity, but they are not simple. Duke University’s Mission Statement reaffirms its foundational commitment to promoting “an intellectual environment built on a commitment to free and open inquiry,” which encompasses academic freedom, free speech, and freedom of assembly. But the range and application of those principles raise hard questions.

The purpose of the Provost’s Forum was to explore these issues in a deeper and more constructive way, through sessions exploring topics such as “Academic Freedom and the Mission of the University,” “Civil Discourse Across Divides,” and “Assembly, Protest, and Shared Spaces.”

Educational Materials

Case Studies

Case Study 1 - Academic Freedom and Industry Sponsorship

Case Study 2 - Controversial Speakers

Case Study 3 - Politics and Freedom of Speech for Faculty and Students

Case Study 4 - Safe Spaces and the Debate About Offensive Speech

Those interested in a more thorough treatment of these issues may wish to consult Free Speech on Campus (Erwin Chemerinsky & Howard Gillman, Yale Univ. Press 2017). Dean Chemerinsky spoke on the first panel of the event on March 1st.

Thursday, March 1, 2018
8:45 am – 4:00 pm*
Penn Pavilion, Duke University

Open to students, faculty, and staff—as well as members of the broader Durham and North Carolina communities.

For more information, contact Stephanie Lowd.

See the following news stories related to the Forum:

*includes additional, related events before and after the one-day forum



The Forum was organized by a university-wide steering committee, and is sponsored by the Office of the Provost. The committee is co-chaired by Professor of Law Joseph Blocher and Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement Abbas Benmamoun, with additional members: Edward Balleisen, Luke Bretherton, Peter Feaver, Thavolia Glymph, Ranjana Khanna, Hallie Knuffman, Judith Kelley, Stephanie Lowd, Larry Moneta, Steve Nowicki, Thomas Pfau, Benjamin Reese, Charmaine Royal, Helen Solterer, David Schanzer. Members of the Student Advisory Committee for the Forum are: Leah Abrams, Colin Duffy, Riyanka Ganguly, Michael Ivory Jr., Rashmi Joglekar, Kushal Kadakia, Corey Pilson.