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Civil Disagreement Series: Academic Freedom, DEI, & the Future of Higher Education

March 21, 2024

4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

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Smith Campus Center

1350 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA

Increasingly, concerns about maintaining academic freedom are being pitted against the efforts of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. In what ways can universities promote student, faculty, and staff wellbeing and cultivate belonging while remaining spaces for inquiry and free expression of ideas?

This panel discussion, co-sponsored by the FAS Civil Discourse Initiative, the Harvard College Intellectual Vitality Initiative, and the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, will bring together those who hold differing views on questions about academic freedom and DEI in higher education, informed by their various experiences and expertise. Together with the audience, they will examine the issues that motivate their differing views on the two topics and explore perspectives that are often overlooked. In the process, this series seeks to model best practices for effective dialogue across difference using techniques developed by the E&L Safra Center’s Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership.

No registration required, HUID holders only. Livestream link is available on the event website.


Christopher Robichaud – Christopher Robichaud is Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Director of Pedagogical Innovation at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics. He received his doctorate in philosophy from MIT. His interests surround ethics, political philosophy, and social epistemology, with a focus on examining the role of truth and knowledge in well-functioning democracies, and on understanding what the post-truth age of politics is.


Jeannie Suk Gersen – Jeannie Suk Gersen is the John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she has taught constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, family law, and the law of art, fashion, and the performing arts. Before joining the faculty in 2006, she served as a law clerk to Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court, and to Judge Harry Edwards on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She was educated at Yale (B.A. 1995), at Oxford (D.Phil 1999) where she was a Marshall Scholar, and at Harvard Law School (J.D. 2002), where she was a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow. She has written three books and many articles in scholarly journals and general media. Her book, At Home in the Law, was awarded the Law and Society Association’s Herbert Jacob Prize for the best law and society book of the year. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of Harvard Law School’s Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence. She is a Contributing Writer to The New Yorker.

Stacy Hawkins – Professor Stacy Hawkins is an award-winning teacher and scholar. She formerly served as the Vice-Dean of Rutgers Law School in Camden, where she also teaches courses in Constitutional Law, Employment Law and an original seminar on Diversity and the Law.  She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2023 Chancellor’s Award for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership, the 2022 BLSA Champion for Social Justice Award, and the 2018 AALS Derrick A. Bell Award. She was also named Faculty of the Year by the graduating class of 2013 and Co-Professor of the Year by the graduating class of 2018.

In addition to law teaching, Professor Hawkins has spent more than two decades advising and training clients in both the public and private sector on issues of workplace diversity. She has held or holds a number of professional and civic appointments, including as a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, as an Advisory Board Member of the Public Interest Law Center, and as an inaugural member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Diversity Team.

Amna Khalid – Amna Khalid is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. She specializes in modern South Asian history, the history of medicine and the global history of free expression. Growing up under a series of military dictatorships, Amna developed a strong interest in issues relating to censorship and free expression. She speaks and writes frequently on academic freedom, free speech, DEI and campus politics. Her essays and commentaries have appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Conversation, Inside Higher Ed and The New Republic. She hosts a podcast and accompanying blog called Banished, which explores censorship in the past and present.

Ilya Shapiro – Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of constitutional studies at the Manhattan Institute. Previously he was executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, and before that a vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the author most recently of Lawless: The Miseducation of America’s Elites (forthcoming 2024), which examines the illiberal takeover of legal education. He is a member of the board of fellows of the Jewish Policy Center, is chairman of the board of advisers of the Mississippi Justice Institute, and previously served on the Virginia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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March 21, 2024, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

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