New College of Florida proposes 'Freedom Institute' to promote free speech, civil discourse
'The New College Freedom Institute seeks to promote tolerance of opposing views and a willingness to engage such views in civil discourse.'
'The New College Freedom Institute shall actively engage the college’s students, the greater Florida community, and the world to promote freedom of inquiry and champion tolerance of civil discourse among those of opposing views.'
The New College of Florida has requested $2 million to fund a new “Freedom Institute” to promote free inquiry and tolerance of civil discourse.
The proposal was submitted at the Board of Trustees meeting in July. The Freedom Institute proposes to become a center of free speech and civil discourse in the community, and develop programs for students and educators throughout Florida.
“In order to develop, implement, and perpetuate Florida’s and the College’s commitment to ‘full and open discourse and the robust exchange of ideas,’ New College of Florida proposes the Freedom Institute,” the proposal states.
“The New College Freedom Institute seeks to promote tolerance of opposing views and a willingness to engage such views in civil discourse. At the human level, such tolerance is a necessary pre-condition for developing effective interpersonal relationships. At a social level, such tolerance is a necessary component for a healthy democratic nation.”
“The New College Freedom Institute shall actively engage the college’s students, the greater Florida community, and the world to promote freedom of inquiry and champion tolerance of civil discourse among those of opposing views,” it adds.
The institute plans to employ scholars and professors to teach for-credit courses on campus; it would also offer shorter courses, open to the public, in nearby Sarasota and statewide. It would hold live symposia and debates on campus to discuss free speech and other important issues.
Besides classes and debates, the institute would offer mentorship programs for the “next-generation leaders who have worked to promote freedom of speech and inquiry.” It would also offer professional development for New College faculty focused on freedom of speech, inquiry, and debate; it would also develop similar programs for university and K-12 faculty statewide. Furthermore, it would “[d]evelop ways in which the Institute’s research may contribute to a master’s program in educational leadership.”
The institute would also “[r]ecognize and award those who have suffered from and persevered through censorship that sought to limit freedom of thought and Expression.”
The institute would be staffed by 3 Senior Fellows, who would be the public face of the Freedom Institute– making public appearances and participating in symposia and debates– as well as professors at New College. The fellows would be prominent free speech advocates and academics studying current free speech issues in communications and public policy-related fields.
The institute would also have 2 Research Fellows from similar fields of study who would provide “scholarly support for the Institute’s efforts” through research and professional development programs.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis authorized $3 million for a similar institute at the University of Florida in April 2022. The Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education seeks to “support teaching and research concerning the ideas, traditions, and texts that form the foundations of western and American civilization.” Programming includes training on “civic education and the values of open inquiry and civil discourse.”
In February, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Board of Trustees announced the development of a new School of Civic Life and Leadership, creating new degree pathways that remove “political constraints on what can be taught in university classes.” The announcement came after an August 2022 survey of eight UNC campuses that revealed ”remarkably broad support for increasing the availability of conservative speakers across campuses.”
Campus Reform reached out to New College for comment. This article would be updated accordingly.