Now schools, nonprofits and faculty members across the country are looking for solutions, with many creating programs to foster civil discourse. The efforts are varied and evolving, with institutional commitment to the principles on some campuses and faculty-led initiatives bubbling up on others. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a “Dialogues Across Difference” program in March. Princeton University added training on free speech to its orientation for students arriving on campus this year. The university’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, spoke about the importance of empathy, mutual respect and careful listening, and said he was dismayed when he heard people “treat free speech and inclusivity as contending values, as though we had to choose one or the other. Democracy requires both. So too does education.”
Heterodox Academy, a nonpartisan nonprofit alliance of faculty, staff and students, launched communities on 23 campuses this year — including Johns Hopkins University, and the universities of Virginia, Kentucky, Toronto and California at Berkeley — with more expected soon, promoting their ideals of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement.
In Virginia, a dozen schools — including Virginia Tech, Danville Community College and Norfolk State and George Mason universities — have partnered with the nonprofit Constructive Dialogue Institute for campuswide initiatives. The efforts are sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The program was first adopted campuswide at William & Mary.