Polarization, Academic Freedom, and Inclusion (808R)

Political, social, cultural, and racial polarization compromise the mission of higher education to promote intellectually rigorous, open, inclusive inquiry; to train a diverse student population to work productively across difference in a pluralistic society; to produce cutting edge research; and to train leaders capable of creating innovative solutions to major social problems.

The policy lab will explore curricular and co-curricular interventions that have the potential to reduce the adverse effects of polarization. Lab members will gather research in social and cognitive psychology, history, conflict mediation, racial, gender and political subordination, deliberative democratic theory, and other fields to identify methods that can be adapted to higher education. Students will also gather and assess evidence of recent interventions and reforms at Stanford and other universities. Our goal is to develop and publish guidance for universities considering reforms that treat free speech and inclusion as mutually constitutive, rather than contrary, principles. Emphasis will be given to guidance showing how skills acquisition by all stakeholders can promote open discourse, meaningful inclusion, and support understanding alternative perspectives. Students will conduct research, meet with experts, design policy reforms, and develop content for a website that publishes the research, guidance, and reform models.

The client for this policy lab is the Stanford President’s office. Elements used in grading: Attendance, Class Participation, Written Assignments, Final Paper.

CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and submit a Consent Application Form available at https://registrar.law.stanford.edu/. See Consent Application Form for instructions and submission deadline.

Course Catalogue
Consent of Instructor – Application Portal


Paul Brest

Paul Brest

  • Interim Dean
  • Professor of Law, Emeritus
  • Director of Law and Policy Lab
  • Interim Executive Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance

Clients & Deliverables

Client: Stanford President’s office

Deliverables: Report on Polarization, Academic Freedom, and Inclusion

View Report
Polarization, Academic Freedom, and Inclusion (808R) 1