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Discussion (1L): Academic Freedom, Free Expression, Diversity, and Inclusion

Past Offerings

Discussion (1L): Academic Freedom, Free Expression, Diversity, and Inclusion (241S): This seminar will explore how to accommodate efforts to promote inclusion and belonging for students with diverse identities and viewpoints and academic freedom and freedom of expression. We will test the hypothesis that it is possible to serve these important interests without compromising any of them. Our substantive goal is to contribute to the solution of actual contemporary problems in American universities. Our procedural goal is for the seminar to model productive critical discourse about difficult issues. Needless to say, the seminar will address controversial topics involving participants' identities and ideological beliefs, and calls for active listening, empathy, humility, and charity on everyone's part. We will begin by examining the purpose of the university, the differences between faculty members' academic freedom and students' rights to free expression, and the limits of both. With respect to academic freedom, we'll consider proceedings by the University of Pennsylvania Law School to discipline a faculty member for "intentional and incessant racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic actions and statements." One of the major reasons for protecting students' free expression is to create an environment in which they can engage in the core educational practices of critical inquiry and discourse. Critical discourse requires that students feel free to express ideas without fear of being ostracized. We will ask how to create such an environment without infringing on faculty's academic freedom (e.g., by mandating trigger warnings) or students free expression (e.g., by mandating the Chatham House rule, which prohibits attributing statements made in class to particular students). We will then address a selection of other issues, all with a problem-solving attitude: How can universities support the inclusion and participation of socially marginalized students and students with views across ideological and political spectrums in ways that avoid institutional orthodoxy and encourage open discourse?; How can universities prevent and remedy harmful attacks on community members' identities and beliefs in ways that are consistent with academic freedom, free expression, privacy, and due process?; How, consistent with principles of academic freedom, can a university ascertain whether a candidate for promotion or for a faculty position will engage in behaviors that promote inclusion? The seminar will be held over four dinners at the home of Paul and Iris Brest on the Stanford campus. Meets 6:00 PM-8:00 PM on Oct. 4, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, and Nov. 15. Elements used in grading: Full attendance, reading of assigned materials, and active participation.


Discussion (1L): Academic Freedom, Free Expression, Diversity, and Inclusion | LAW 241S Section 01 Class #31888

  • 1 Units
  • Grading: Law Mandatory P/R/F
  • 2023-2024 Autumn
    Schedule No Longer Available
  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent
    • 1L: Mandatory (First-Year Required Course)
  • Learning Outcomes Addressed:
    • LO1 - Substantive and Procedural Law
    • LO2 - Legal Analysis and Reasoning
    • LO7 - Professional Skills

Notes: Class meets 6:00 PM-8:00 PM on Oct. 4, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, and Nov. 15. Meeting location TBA by instructor.

  • 2023-2024 Autumn
    Schedule No Longer Available
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