AU's commitment to freedom of speech
Because of our unique role in expanding and challenging previously-understood ideas and teaching young adults to think critically, universities zealously protect freedom of speech—even when, as is the case with American University, we have the institutional power to limit speech based on offensive content. AU policy on freedom of expression.
Our mission as a university community–
productive, useful, truthful discourse
Protecting free speech and declining to censor students and faculty, while necessary and admirable, is only the beginning. As an institution whose very existence is rooted in productive, truthful, useful discourse and in helping students think critically and build their skills, we have the opportunity and the obligation to support our students in using their voices productively, truthfully, and in a manner that serves their goals.
The American University Project on Civil Discourse encourages students to move from thinking only about what they have a right to say and consider why and how they engage in conversations as speakers, listeners, and readers. The project is based on the understanding that our choice of how to use our voices, what conversations to engage in, whether and how we listen to others, is at the core of our learning experience. It challenges students to examine their goals and be wise and mindful architects of their contributions to American University—an institution whose mission is to promote and disseminate knowledge.
About the Project
The Project on Civil Discourse will include:
- Events in which AU community members and distinguished visiting speakers engage with relevant issues including freedom of speech, consensus-building, media, information literacy, and public communication
- Teaching resources, including classroom exercises and readings
- Building My Voice, a tool for students (and others) to reflect on their own goals, values, and habits as speakers, listeners, and learners and to develop their voices
- Student-led facilitated discussions that help students build their skills at engaging in touch conversations, setting healthy boundaries, communicating effectively, resolving disputes, and considering civil discourse issues in current events