9/7 Community Conversations: Academic Free Speech: Protect Students ... or Teach Them?

Sep 7, 2015

Credit Jeremy Wilburn/Flickr

A recent article in The Atlantic titled “The Coddling of the American Mind” says “in the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like.”  Authors Greg Lukianoff (a constitutional lawyer who defends free speech and academic freedom on campus), and Jonathan Haidt (a social psychologist) maintain this practice is “disastrous for education—and mental health.”

Shane Courtland is a philosophy professor at UMD and the director of UMD’s Center for Ethics and Public Policy.  He says the Center’s goal is to assemble people who are passionate about important issues in the community (frequently who hold points of view that normally disagree with each other) and to have them share their experience and positions.  And that, says Courtland accomplishes what he sees as one of the primary obligations of a university: to force you to look at another point of view different from your own.

But Courtland says it’s becoming increasingly more complicated in universities across the country to accomplish those goals in the classroom.

Community Conversations is a monthly program here on KUMD dedicated to topics of interest in our community and fostering our community connections.  

Our guest this evening was Shane Courtland, a philosophy professor here at UMD and the director of its Center for Ethics and Public Policy.  In July, he was part of an invitation-only educational seminar in Washington DC on the topic of Academic Freedom.  

For more information on this topic:

 “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, September 2015 Issue

FIRE: the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education 

The FIRE website does not list a speech code for the University of Minnesota Duluth, but it does for the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities

Community Conversations is produced at KUMD by Lisa Johnson and is funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.