With its diversity of interests and expertise, our seventh class of Fellows will add to the Center’s rich body of work focused on equipping students, staff, faculty and other higher education professionals with tools and resources to strengthen our communities. This cohort’s research includes explorations of how to protect academic freedom, combat misinformation and reduce values-based polarization in higher education settings.

Cameron Beatty

Associate Professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department, Florida State University

Research Title: "Navigating Expression: Understanding the Impact of Anti-DEI and Anti-CRT Legislation on Campus Civic Engagement"

This project aims to address the intricate dynamics between DEI and free expression on college campuses by examining the experiences of student organization leaders and activists advocating for free speech. Specifically, this project will investigate the ramifications of anti-DEI and anti-CRT legislation in the states of Florida and Georgia.

Derron Bennett

Legislative Director, U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

Research Title: "From Capitol to Campus: A Practitioner's Toolkit for Protecting Academic Freedom in the Face of State and Federal Challenges"

This project will leverage real-world insights and research to equip academics, advocates, and policymakers with strategies for navigating and counteracting political threats to academic freedom.

Robert Cohen — Senior Fellow

Professor of Social Studies Education, New York University

Research Title: "The Free Speech Movement @60: Reflections on Campus Free Speech 1964/2024"

Marking the 60th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement (FSM), this project will explore the history of that movement, its legacy, and the state of campus free speech since 1964. This will involve public forums, teacher workshops, development of college orientation materials and publications, which feature historians, FSM veterans, legal scholars, students and campus administrators.

Yi Ding

Faculty and Director of Affordable Learning, California State University, Northridge

Research Title: "Bridging Gaps: AI Empowerment for Students of Color Against Political Misinformation"

This project addresses the impact of AI-driven political misinformation on democracy, particularly targeting communities of color. With AI’s unprecedented looming impact over the 2024 and future elections, I will develop an educational toolkit, including bibliographies, lesson plans, and interactive modules tailored for supporting the democratic participation of students of color.

Tara Donnelly

School Librarian, Chicago Public Schools

Research Title: "Information Literacy in Democratic Institutions: Connecting Academic and School Librarians"

This project will develop collaborative conversations between K-12 and college librarians, with the goal of assessing incoming college students' needs for the purpose of finding ways to close gaps in information and media literacy. The product will be the creation of a scalable set of guiding questions that K-12 and college librarians can use to begin these dialogues in communities around the country.

Susan Haarman & Leslie Watland

Associate Director of the Center for Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship, Loyola University of Chicago; Associate Dean of Students, DePaul University

Research Title: "'Good Faith Speech': Exploring Meaning Making and Tensions in Free Speech Practices on Catholic Universities"

The goal of our research is to examine the ways in which Catholic institutions do (and do not) utilize their mission as a frame for how they create and enforce free speech policies on campus and the potential disconnect or tension points in the creation and implementation process.

Tara Hudson & Alyssa Rockenbach

Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration, Kent State University; Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development, North Carolina State University

Research Title: "The Promise and Perils of Interpartisan Friendships for Fostering Democratic Learning and Reducing Values-Based Polarization on Campus"

How can we employ the potential of higher education for healing political divisiveness? Our project explores the stories of college students’ interpartisan friendships, translating our findings into a toolkit providing actionable strategies and educational interventions to support democratic learning and reduce campus polarization.

Anil Kalhan

Professor of Law, Drexel University Kline School of Law

Research Title: "Democratic Erosion and the Contemporary Assault on Education and Knowledge"

Recent campaigns targeting teaching and research on “controversial subjects” have emerged alongside concerns that democratic governance has been placed more fundamentally at risk. This project examines the relationships between these developments, analyzing the legal architecture and rationales of the contemporary assault on knowledge and drawing connections to wider concerns about democratic erosion.

Penelope Lusk

Ph.D. Candidate in the Education, Culture and Society Program, University of Pennsylvania

Research Title: "(No) Shame in Speaking: Resources for Navigating Emotions on Campus"

Shame is a complex, painful emotion nearly ubiquitous in schooling, with moral, social, and justice-related implications. Yet, shame is often taboo on campus. This project aims to clarify the relationship between shame and expression, and consider how communities can attend to emotions for more inclusive and open expression on campus.