Colleges and universities play an essential role in sustaining our democracy. They serve as crucibles of ideas, dialogue, and debate, committed to the pursuit of truth and knowledge. But as political discourse has become increasingly polarized in the United States, colleges and universities have run up against tensions between the bedrock values of free speech and inclusion. Concerns centering on the use of language, historical legacies of discrimination, and the space for divergent ideas have roiled campuses across the country and shined a spotlight on fundamental questions regarding the role and purpose of free expression in American society. PEN America has been at the forefront of these issues, working to reconcile the tensions between free speech and inclusion to ensure equal access to the intellectual life of the campus and to sustain the spirit of open inquiry core to the academic mission.

View the PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech »

Read PEN America’s comprehensive report, Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America »

Read PEN America’s 2016 report, And Campus For All: Diversity, Inclusion, and Freedom of Speech at U.S. Universities »

PEN America has advised, spoken at, and organized programming at campuses across the country. We offer training workshops, advisory meetings, convenings and dialogues, and public events, tailoring these engagements to the needs and interests of particular campuses and audiences. To bring PEN America to your campus, contact us at [email protected].

For media inquiries, please contact Stephen Fee at [email protected] or +1 646.779.4830


Program Staff

Jonathan Friedman
Project Director, Campus Free Speech






Upcoming Event

headshots of paneilsts at the campus at a crossroads event

Campus at a Crossroads
Thursday, September 26, 2019 | 6:30-8:30pm

With Ulrich Baer, Rich Blint, Suzanne Nossel, Lee Rowland, and Jeremy Waldron.
RSVP to the event here »