The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


MSU Conference on Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Diversity on Campus

A free online conference sponsored by the LeFrak Forum on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy at Michigan State University.


Later this week, the Michigan State University Department of Political Science's LeFrak Forum on Science, Reason and Modern Democracy is sponsoring a conference on "Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Diversity on Campus."

The program begins Thursday evening with a keynote address by Professor Randall Kennedy of the Harvard Law School on "The Race Question and Freedom of Expression." (Do not be surprised if he references some of the arguments he made in this paper, co-authored with our own Eugene Volokh.)

Here is the remainder of the program (which includes a debate on campus free speech featuring our own Keith Whittington on Friday!):

Day One: Intellectual Diversity – Friday, April 9
  • Panel 1: What are the empirical facts about lack of intellectual diversity in academia and what are the causes of existing imbalances?
    • Paper: Lee Jussim, Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, author of The Politics of Social Psychology. 
    • Discussant: Philip Tetlock, Annenberg University Professor, University of Pennsylvania, author of "Why so few conservatives and should we care?" and Cory Clark, Visiting Scholar, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, author of "Partisan Bias and its Discontents."


  • Panel 2In what precise ways and to what degree is this imbalance a problem?
    • Paper: Joshua Dunn, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Colorado, co-author of Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University.
    • Discussant: Amna Khalid, Associate Professor of History, Carleton College, author of "Not A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy: Why Left-Leaning Faculty Should Care About Threats to Free Expression on Campus."


  • Panel 3What is To Be Done?
    • Paper: Musa Al-Gharbi, Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow in Sociology, Columbia University and Managing Editor, Heterodox Academy, author of "Why Care About Ideological Diversity in Social Research? The Definitive Response."
    • Paper: Conor Friedersdorf, Staff writer at The Atlantic and frequent contributor to its special series "The Speech Wars," author of "Free Speech Will Survive This Moment."


Day Two: Freedom of Speech – Saturday, April 10


  • Panel 1:  An empirical accounting of the recent challenges to free speech on campus from left and right. What is the true character of the problem or problems here and do they constitute a "crisis"?
    • Paper: Jonathan Marks, Professor and Chair, Department of Politics and International Relations, Ursinus College, author of Let's Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education.
    • Respondent: April Kelly-Woessner, Dean of the School of Public Service and Professor of Political Science at Elizabethtown College, author of The Still Divided Academy


  • Panel 2: But is Free speech, as traditionally interpreted, even the right ideal?—a Debate 
    • Ulrich Baer, University Professor of Comparative Literature, German, and English, NYU, author of What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech and Truth on Campus
    • Keith Whittington, Professor of Politics, Princeton University, author of Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech.


  • Panel 3: What is To Be Done?
    • Paper: Nancy Costello, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, MSU. Founder and Director of the First Amendment Law Clinic—the only law clinic in the nation devoted to the defense of student press rights.  Also, Director of the Free Expression Online Library and Resource Center.
    • Paper: Jonathan Friedman, Project Director for campus free speech at PEN America – "a program of advocacy, analysis, and outreach in the national debate around free speech and inclusion at colleges and universities."

Registration info is here.