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Private Higher Education
September 18, 2023

Presidents of 13 higher education institutions across the U.S. are taking part in a joint effort to further free expression and civil discourse on their campuses. The Institute for Citizens & Scholars (ICS), an AVDF grantee, convened the group effort known as the Campus Call for Free Expression. The Campus Call was featured in a recent issue of Forbes.

The joint effort was launched to address escalating threats to critical inquiry, free expression, and civil discourse activities on campuses across the country. The Campus Call is grounded in the conviction that it is essential for students to know how to engage respectfully with those holding opposing viewpoints and to consider the perspectives of others. The Campus Call campaign will advance civil dialogue and engagement through presidential speeches, free expression training, hosting outside speakers, developing new curricula and courses, and other endeavors.

While these skills are critical to a productive educational experience in college, presidents leading the initiative are also seeking to prepare graduates to become productive members of a democratic society. “Given the extreme divisiveness that faces our country today, it is imperative that students, as the future leaders of a pluralistic America, learn to listen, work, and collaborate with people of different backgrounds and views,” said AVDF President and CEO, Michael Murray.

The Campus Call for Free Expression is one of three major projects within a broader initiative known as the College Presidents for Civic Preparedness. The initiative, coordinated by ICS, connects the presidents of 15 four-year institutions, including public universities, Ivy-plus campuses, HBCUs, STEM-focused schools, liberal arts colleges, and faith-based institutions. The presidents are committed to providing students with an education that encompasses civic engagement learning opportunities including civil discourse training.

“Higher education plays a crucial role in preparing our young people to thrive and develop the skills necessary to become empowered citizens and leaders of the future,” said Rajiv Vinnakota, president of the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, in a press release. “This diverse coalition of college presidents – from institutions large and small, private and public – is united in its commitment to ensuring students are civically well-informed, productively engaged, and committed to democracy.”

To read the full Forbes article about the College Presidents for Civic Preparedness initiative, click here.

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