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Fostering Students' Free Expression

Fostering Students' Free Expression

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How colleges can support and encourage tough conversations.

The pandemic made students feel more isolated and vulnerable. Unending political turmoil has left them frustrated. Many professors say that students are reluctant to tackle tough questions in classroom discussions, and a 2022 survey by Heterodox Academy found that the majority of students who are timid when it comes to sharing opinions in class said they worried about the reactions they might get from peers.

But today’s students, says one professor who teaches a course on political polarization, are deeply curious, and are open to new ideas. To build trust in higher education, colleges must ensure that students are exposed to views and ideas that challenge convention and their own thinking.

This Chronicle report explores how professors are cultivating an environment that encourages discussion of difficult topics — and how administrators can support faculty members who do this work. It also explores how colleges can use prime settings to help new students engage with different viewpoints, in orientation and residence life.

Purchase this report to:

  • Learn how to cultivate a classroom environment that models healthy debate and encourages students to share and listen to ideas.
  • Identify the administrative support necessary to shape a culture across campus.
  • Examine how residence life and orientation are opportunities to reach students early.
  • Take a closer look at the emerging groups founded by students to start discussions on divisive topics.
  • Explore what goes into crafting campus-speaker policy that can account for as many outcomes as possible.

Date: September 2023
Pages: 74
Digital file size: 14.6 MB

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