A recent Onion article poked fun at the speech controversies on campus with the headline “Berkeley Campus On Lockdown After Loose Pages From ‘Wall Street Journal’ Found On Park Bench.” As is often the case with satire, the article brought some critical issues to the fore that many of us around the nation are grappling with inside the classroom and in the public areas on campus. Controversies at a number of higher education institutions around the nation have highlighted some tensions around difficult issues. I will not belabor a detailing of what has happened at Berkeley, Middlebury, UCLA, and other campuses, but you can find a listing and an interesting response from students in this Inside Higher Education piece. Rather, I want to highlight some of the important work done at Chico that represents how we should engage controversy and invite you to participate in the forthcoming dialogue at the CELT conference to continue those conversations.
- Chico is home of some longstanding events that engage students in civil discussions on controversial issues. The Town Hall Meeting and Great Debate have showcased active engagement in and out of the classroom and become models for other campuses around the nation. If you are looking for help in and out of your own classroom, you do not even have to step off campus for advice from First-Year Experience and Civic Engagement.
- A recent incident on our campus showcased some of the best Chico has to offer when students engaged in creative counter-protest of a controversial speaker in the 1st street mall area.
- The question of “what is up for debate?” was central to our selection of the 2017 CELT Conference theme, Revitalizing Truth Through Education. We are not courting controversy, but we are asking you to address it. What topics are off limits in your courses? What gets brought up unproductively? What do we do when controversy erupts?
Lastly, I want to let you know how pleased we are to welcome Dr. Josh Trout as the new Director of Faculty Development starting in Summer 2017. We are all excited to see where Dr. Trout takes the campus next and eager to support him.
The call for the 23rd annual CELT conference is live! Submit an abstract today to change the world tomorrow—or maybe in October.
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