Ben Solnik

Conversations: Academic Freedom at UCSB

Mentor: Alison Williams

My project, “Conversations: Academic Freedom at UCSB,” checks the pulse of academic freedom at UCSB by deconstructing stories from faculty and students. Through recorded long-form conversations, I explore the varying perspectives surrounding academic free expression and the implications they have for how we communicate at UCSB. Though people generally agree that academic freedom grants protections for all academics to inquire intellectually without fear of sanction, the boundaries of this protection blur in sensitive cases where controversial ideas become entangled with people’s sense of identity. In particular, students who feel threatened by triggering rhetoric in class may perceive a hostile learning environment and potentially retaliate. I aim to explore UCSB’s marketplace of ideas from multiple angles. I will research, write, and converse about UCSB’s history of scholarly expression in the classroom and synthesize the insights into a website that paints a meaningful portrait of academic freedom.