Campus For All Trainings: Workshops for Academic Leaders, Faculty, and Staff


This professional development series covers the basics of free speech on campus and equip academic leaders, faculty, and staff to respond to a range of scenarios involving academic freedom, hate, and difficult dialogue. The program builds on PEN America’s years of experience engaging with universities around the U.S. and our unique philosophy that higher education institutions can and must balance robust protections for free speech with efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. The program will draw on advice in PEN America’s Campus Free Speech Guide.

If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact Kristen Shahverdian, Senior Manager in Free Expression & Education at PEN America, at [email protected].


We have conducted trainings and workshops for colleges and universities across the United States and reached over 500 faculty, academic leaders and staff since 2020, including:

  • Bard College
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Augustana College
  • University of Mississippi
  • Maryland Institute College of Art 
  • McGill University
  • Rider University


“This is hands down one of the BEST faculty development seminars I have been to in a while. Bravo! It was a lot of info but I feel like I was kept engaged and I feel like I know how to apply my learnings.”
(Faculty, Bard College)

“I plan on sharing some of these scenarios in a future faculty meeting. I have faculty with generational, racial, and gender differences, and based on this workshop, I believe that a preemptive dialogue with faculty would help to understand that we do share many of the same values, even if we disagree on which judgments should be made about specific speech.” 
(Dean, University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

“I truly enjoyed the “feel” of the workshop. It was more about intellectual inquiry and discussion. I felt very engaged.”  
(Dean, University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

“[The instructors were] Personable, professional, and relatable. [They] used concrete pragmatic advice, examples, scenarios, phrases we can say/implement into our lexicon in being positively proactive.” 
(Faculty member, Maryland Institute College of Art)



We are available for in-person and virtual workshops. We will work with you to design the program that best fits your needs and budget. Each session below is between 1-2 hours. A typical in-person workshop is a 6 hour day.

Free Speech and Academic Freedom

This session will unpack the multi-faceted implications of free speech in the U.S. today, helping attendees to understand the basic legal distinctions between protected and unprotected speech, the concepts of hate speech, true threats, and harassment, and to distinguish between maintaining standards of conscientious and respectful communication and censorship.

Setting the Stage for Robust Engagement in Class

We will also discuss concrete tools for classroom activities that can elicit student engagement and open exchange, while also supporting active listening, nuanced dialogue, and community building.

Navigating Difficult Dialogues

This session will equip campus leaders with strategies for tense, politicized, or emotional moments that can be unexpected but often need to be addressed in order to maintain an open and respectful campus climate.

Responding to Tense Moments and Aftermath Communications

The session will provide strategies to ward off controversies but also tactics to navigate them when they arise. Included will be examples of what to say and how to put out a public statement responding to incidents on campus.

Policies and Processes to Support Open and Inclusive Campus

In this session, participants will also learn about the complexities of free speech on social media platforms and practical principles and policies that can be adopted and applied to support free speech and inclusion in the online campus community in tandem.


Jonathan Friedman headshotJonathan Friedman (he/him/his) is the director of free expression and education at PEN America, where he oversees advocacy, analysis, and outreach to educational communities and academic institutions. He served as lead author on its 2019 report, Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America, and its digital Campus Free Speech Guide. Friedman has published research on higher education, taught courses at NYU and Columbia University, and facilitated workshops at dozens of colleges and universities on free speech, diversity, and inclusion. He holds an MA and Ph.D. in international education from NYU. 

Neijma Celestine-Donnor (she/her/hers) is assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland-Baltimore. She leads efforts to respond to hate and bias through trauma-focused response and support, training and education, and data collection and distribution. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland, is a licensed clinical social work supervisor, and is currently completing her JD at the University of Baltimore. She also has years of experience within the field of trauma services, is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, and is an experienced trainer and facilitator.

Lara Schwartz (she/her/hers) is the founding director of the American University Project on Civil Discourse and teaches at the American University School of Public Affairs. Schwartz focuses on civil rights and liberties, constitutional law, politics, communications, policy, and civic dialogue. Prior to joining AU’s faculty, Schwartz served as director of strategic engagement at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, as Courts Matter director at Media Matters, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, and vice president of external affairs at the American Association of People with Disabilities. Schwartz is the coauthor of How to College: What to Know Before You Go (And When You’re There). Her next book, Try to Love the Questions: From Debate to Inquiry in the College Classroom, will be released in 2023.

headshot of Kristen ShahverdianKristen Shahverdian (she/her/hers) is the senior program manager of free expression and education at PEN America, developing campus engagements and public events related to free expression and education. Before joining PEN America, she was a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and previously was an adjunct professor at Rowan University and Temple University. She served as a project manager for the Philadelphia Folklore Project, and facilitated workshops on how to teach representations of violence in art at Moore College of Art & Design, Common Field, the College Art Association and Dance Studies Association. She is also a writer and editor at the online dance journal thINKingDANCE.