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The Importance of Community Engagement and Freedom of Expression in Higher Ed

Educational institutions must engage with their communities to illuminate the systemic injustices experienced by those hypermarginalized, including people and communities of color.

In the Spring 2022 issue of AAC&U’ magazine, Liberal Education, AACTE member Tania Mitchell reflects on the killing of George Floyd to highlight these structural inequities. She urges those in higher education to rethink how community can be created and how to engage differently within the context of racism, economic inequality, and COVID 19:

“Our community engagement work of colleges and universities should be revealing. It should illuminate the systemic injustices that reify and deepen the marginalization already experienced. Moreover, it should focus on the policies, practices, conditions, and experiences that shape the everyday realities of the poor and people of color.”

Mitchell concludes that community engagement, as an institutional strategy, can help make racial justice and equity more tangible. Read the full article.

In the same issue of Liberal Education, Michelle Deutchman and Elisabeth Yap discuss how educators must also understand how the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion interact with free expression:

“Between the pandemic, deep political polarization, and flagging faith in the value of higher education, today is a challenging time to be a teacher, administrator, or a university or college student. That is precisely why institutions of higher education need to double down on clearly articulating their values, investing in teaching them, and modeling how to live them.”

Deutchman and Yap offer tips to help promote freedom of expression and inclusion, emphasizing the importance of teaching your institutional values, investing in teaching dialogue across differences, modeling the First Amendment, and using your voice to respond to hateful speech. Read the full article.


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