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Cathy J. Cohen, Tom Ginsburg, and Christopher J. Wild

The Kalven Report and Freedom of Expression

NEW DATE: Monday, January 22, 2024, 5:00–6:30pm

Social Science Research Building 122

Since its publication in 1967, the Kalven Committee’s Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action—commonly referred to as the Kalven Report—has guided the University of Chicago’s policy on freedom of speech and institutional neutrality. “The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic,” the report states, insisting on such impartiality as essential to its mission of cultivating “a community of scholars.”

Such a commitment affords individual faculty members and students the freedom of academic inquiry and political expression, protections that we have recently seen challenged in the media, in government, and at other universities to chilling effect. At the same time, student groups and other activists have been questioning the premise that corporate bodies could ever be neutral, instead charging their silence and ongoing financial entanglements with systems of violence and oppression as violations of the very standards the Kalven Report seeks to uphold.

Please join us as speakers Cathy Cohen, Tom Ginsburg, and Christopher Wild discuss the Kalven Report, its aims, its limitations, and its implications here at the University of Chicago and beyond.

Cathy J. Cohen is the Chair of the Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity and the David and Mary Winton Green Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Cohen is the author of two books, The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1999) and Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (Oxford University Press, 2010). Cohen created and oversees two major research and public-facing projects: the GenForward Survey and the Black Youth Project.

Tom Ginsburg is the Leo Spitz Distinguished Service Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ginsburg focuses on comparative and international law from an interdisciplinary perspective. Ginsburg is the author of Democracies and International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2021), co-author of How to Save a Constitutional Democracy (University of Chicago Press, 2018), and more. Ginsburg co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, an effort funded by the National Science Foundation to gather and analyze the constitutions of all independent nation-states since 1789.

Christopher J. Wild is the Faculty Director of the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse, Professor in the Department of Germanic Studies and the Committee on Theater and Performance Studies, and Associated Faculty in the Divinity School. Wild is the author of  Theater der Keuschheit – Keuschheit des Theaters. Zu einer Geschichte der (Anti-)Theatralität von Gryphius bis Kleist (Rombach Verlag, 2003) and the forthcoming Descartes’ Meditative Turn: The Meditations on First Philosophy and the Tradition of Spiritual Exercises (Stanford University Press, 2024).

This event is free and open to the public, and registration is recommended. Please email us at  if you require any accommodations to enable your full participation.