Irvine, Calif., Oct. 2, 2023 — Free speech and academic freedom are foundational matters that drive the important discourse and learning that take place on a college campus. While these rights are protected by the First Amendment, federal and state laws, and university policy, U.S. institutions continue to grapple with the proper contours of freedom of expression.
Throughout 2023-24 academic year, the University of California, Irvine will host campuswide Year of Free Speech programs and activities to delve deeply into these topics – beginning on Oct. 5 with the Year of Free Speech kick-off event, featuring speakers from across campus.
“Over the course of the academic year, we will thoughtfully examine all the facets of free speech and academic freedom so that the entire campus community can gain a better understanding of why these conversations across the divide are so fundamental to the university as we know it today,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman.
UCI is uniquely positioned to serve as a national model in this area. The campus houses the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, and among its faculty and staff are some of the leading voices on the subject. Gillman, for instance, is a noted scholar and teacher with expertise in the American Constitution and the Supreme Court, and he co-wrote Free Speech on Campus, which is considered the foremost book in the field.
Programming such as discussions with national experts and arts performances will enable students, faculty and staff to develop their understanding of both the legal and philosophical foundations of free expression and academic freedom and the importance of engaging across strong differences of opinion.
In addition, Gillman and Michelle Deutchman, executive director of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, are teaching an undergraduate course called Introduction to Free Speech and Academic Freedom.
“With free expression and academic freedom generating so much debate on university campuses, UCI’s Year of Free Speech is a perfect opportunity for students, faculty and staff to immerse themselves in these topics and grapple with the challenges they raise,” Deutchman said.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at https://news.uci.edu/media-resources.