Rhodes Alumni Free Speech Conversation Series
About the Project
From January-April of 2018, the Center for the Study of Liberty collaborated with Dr. Daniel Cullen (Professor of Political Science at Rhodes College) to provide Rhodes alumni in the Washington D.C. metro area with a series of opportunities to learn about and discuss the topic of free speech.
Through a mix of in-person and online meetings, the group explored questions related to the intellectual climate on college campuses, the impact social media has on public discourse, and much more.
Event Series Schedule
Friday January 19th, 2018
6-8 pm at District Chophouse & Brewery
The conversation series kicked off with a brief talk and discussion facilitated by Dr. Cullen providing background context on the significance of freedom of speech and why it is such a contentious topic.
Wednesday February 21st & March 14th, 2018
7:30-8:30 pm via Zoom video conference
In February and March, the group engaged in online discussions on the themes of Timothy Garton Ash’s book, Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. Using Zoom allowed everyone to talk face-to-face while retaining the convenience of meeting online. Topics covered included diversity, journalism, and privacy.
Saturday April 14th, 2018
2:30-6:30 pm at 3434 Washington Blvd, 4th Floor, Arlington, VA 22201
This capstone Socratic seminar was co-facilitated by Dr. Mark LeBar, Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Through this seminar, participants were able to tie together the themes they'd been exploring throughout the event series in a more intensive setting.
2:30-2:45 Opening Remarks
2:45-4:00 Session I: The Liberty of Thought & Discussion
4:15-5:30 Session II: The Harm in Hate Speech
5:30-6:30 Dinner & Talk by Dr. Mark LeBar
About the Speaker
Mark LeBar is Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He works in moral, social, and political philosophy. Mark has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Arizona, an MA in philosophy from the University of Washington, and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He received his bachelor's degree in Philosophy and English from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA.
Mark’s book, The Value of Living Well (Oxford University Press, 2013) is a development of contemporary eudaimonist ethical theory. He is now working on extending that account of eudaimonism to questions about the nature and origin of the virtue of justice. He has published in journals including Ethics, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
Why Free Speech?
Across the United States, people are finding it increasingly difficult to talk to one another across political and cultural divides. This has come to a head most clearly in our universities, which have become flash points for free speech controversies. With students across the political spectrum engaging in hostile attempts to shut down civil conversation instead of learning to how to think and speak, it can be difficult to be optimistic about the future. The good news is that we don’t need to wait around for the academy to sort itself out to actively foster the values of open inquiry in society. Each of us contributes to shaping culture every day, through our interactions with our families, our work, and the communities we belong to. By consciously cultivating good habits of thought, we can ensure we not only have more speech, but better speech.
“Thank you for your partnership in the free exchange of ideas. It is a privilege to engage others in thoughtful conversation about the ideas of liberty and human flourishing.”
“This opportunity allowed me to engage in more open and thoughtful views than I can in my every day experiences where ‘don't talk about religion or politics’ is the social norm.”
“Sincere thanks to the Center for the Study of Liberty for offering an opportunity for serious reflection, conversation, and truth-seeking in a culture that has far too little of this.”