Polarization, Civic Dialogue, and the Boundaries of Open Expression

Current struggles over the meaning of ‘truth’ and ‘safety’ help explain why college campuses have become key battle grounds in the culture wars. While campus speech struggles are not new, their terrain has been shifting, and recent challenges on campuses are typical of the current hyper-partisan and polarized political sphere. Inside the classroom and beyond it, charges of censorship, demands for civility and adherence to unspoken rules, debates about the legitimacy of protests, and concerns about silencing, proliferate. College campuses, long seen as labs for democracy, now serve as flashpoints in a social struggle over the future of democracy. Recent tensions around ‘cancel culture’ reflect ongoing disagreement over the boundaries of expression, raising questions about who should be allowed to speak, and what might never be said. It presents an expansion of earlier ‘de-platforming’ attempts on college campuses, and provides an opportunity to consider key matters of civility, resistance, and the possibility of a common ground. 

Sigal Ben-Porath is a Professor of Education, Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. 

This talk will be hosted on Zoom. For more information, please email Lucy Schwarz.

Event Contacts
Lucy Schwarz