Dartmouth to Sponsor Forum on Free Speech

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CANCELED: This event has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances but will be rescheduled.

Keith Whittington
Princeton professor Keith Whittington is a leading expert on free speech and academic freedom. (Photo by Kevin Birch, Princeton University)

Keith Whittington, a nationally renowned expert on free speech and American constitutional theory, will be on campus Friday to engage in a public conversation on “What Is Free Speech About?” The event takes place at 3:30 p.m. in Rockefeller 001. 

Joining Whittington in conversation will be Sonu Bedi, the Hans ’80 and Kate Morris Director of the Ethics Institute and the Joel Parker 1811 Professor in Law and Political Science, and Sean Westwood, associate professor of government and director of the Polarization Research Lab

Bedi and Westwood helped organize the event, which is being sponsored by Dartmouth Dialogues, the Dartmouth Political Union, Rockefeller Center, Office of the Provost, and the Ethics Institute

Westwood calls Whittington, who is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University, “a strong advocate for academic freedom and respectful discourse who offers a framework for understanding the protections and limits of free speech on our campus.” 

“Free speech and academic freedom are essential for the innovation and creativity that defines Dartmouth, and it is more important than ever to ensure that diverse viewpoints can be expressed constructively and safely on our campus,” Westwood says. 

“The science shows that respectful conversation builds trust and understanding across divides. Highlighting the importance of freedom of speech on campuses will better equip our students and faculty to navigate and engage with differing perspectives. We planned this event to give faculty and students a space to discuss what free speech is and to help work through its critical role on college campuses and in the functioning of a healthy democratic society.” 

The forum comes after the protest earlier this month on the Dartmouth Green over the Israel-Hamas war. 

Whittington is the award-winning author of six books, including, most recently, Repugnant Laws: Judicial Review of Acts of Congress from the Founding to the Present and Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, and co-author, editor, and co-editor of several others. His writing frequently appears in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Atlantic, Reason, Lawfare, and the Volokh Conspiracy, and he is the host of The Academic Freedom podcast.

He is the current chair of the Academic Freedom Alliance’s academic committee, a visiting fellow of the Hoover Institution, and a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. Previously, he was a faculty fellow of the John M. Olin Foundation, a junior faculty fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies, a fellow of the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, a visiting scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and a visiting professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Harvard Law School, and Georgetown University Law Center. He also served on the Presidential Commission on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In July Whittington will transfer to emeritus status at Princeton and become the David Boies Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

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