Threats to Free Speech at University, and How to Deal with Them—Part 2

Summary of Study

Bottom Line: Growing threats to free speech on college campuses should be counteracted by: 1) raising awareness, 2) threatening public funding, 3) setting up new universities, 4) using pre-commitment devices, 5) appointing Academic Freedom Champions, 6) creating academic freedom metrics, 7) setting up an academic NATO, and 8) issuing new journals.

Part 1 of this study explains the growing threats to free speech on campus. Part 2 discusses how they can be counteracted. These proposals include:

  1. Putting pressure on institutions by raising awareness about the nature of the problem, and encouraging free-speech-minded academics, donors and other stakeholders to pressure their institutions into action to defend open inquiry.
  2. Taking away federal funding from universities that fail to uphold free speech as recently proposed by President Trump.
  3. Setting up new universities that value free speech as competitors to existing ones as championed by the psychologist and anti-PC campaigner Jordan Peterson.
  4. Adopting pre-commitment devices such as the Chicago Statement as a way to forestall censorship demands as articulated by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education President Greg Lukianoff.
  5. Appointing academic freedom champions who are charged with investigating complaints of political discrimination as suggested by political scientists Tom Simpson and Eric Kaufmann.
  6. Developing academic freedom metrics that create an objective measure of free speech and open inquiry that can be compared among universities as proposed by the academics Mohan Dutta, Richard Ashford and Shampa Biswas.
  7. Establishing an Academic NATO that would respond to free speech threats with a collective defense with all participants promising to defend each other in the event of an activist attack as proposed by the historian Niall Ferguson.
  8. Issuing new journals with the express aim of fostering debate around contentious subjects to foster and safeguard free speech as proposed by the philosophers Francesca Minerva, Jeff McMahan and Peter Singer. 

Read the full study here