Tom Ginsburg Discusses Building Cultures of Free Expression

UChicago's Tom Ginsburg: "Free Expression Is A Misnomer"

You are the faculty director of the University of Chicago’s Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression. Please tell us about the forum and its purpose.

The Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression is a new initiative that the university developed under President Paul Alivisatos to take forward our 130-year-old tradition of promoting free and open discourse to meet the challenges of the current era. It’s to deepen understanding and practice of free speech.

Has the forum played any particular role in moderating the discord that has occurred on campuses around the Hamas-Israel war?

We happened to launch on Oct. 6 and woke up the next day to this new environment. So, it’s not like we have an established program that we can deploy, though I have given a couple of lectures on the conflict and speech in this environment. We are trying to educate people on the underlying issue.

But in a couple of ways we (UChicago)were well-prepared as all these things about universities’ statements, presidents’ statements emerged.  We have a longstanding policy that the university is just not supposed to speak out. We are somewhat advantaged in that way and some schools are looking to us as a model.

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