Freedom of Speech: Community of Inquiry

Red tape over mouths, preventing speech
Public lectures / seminars

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Tuesday 27 June 2023

10:00 AM - 03:00 PM


Coventry University Technology Park



Event details

A Community of Inquiry is a practical way of managing group discussion on complex or divisive issues. The ground rules for discussion are established at the start by the participants themselves, with mediator support. This gives them ownership over the conversation and helps to create positive group dynamics. A sequence of steps is used to develop a process for agreeing to disagree civilly and learning to go for the ball not the player. This approach is based upon early 20C American pragmatism.

While many educators and students already use components of this approach, we suggest it is important to do this consciously and systematically, with every move made explicit between students and staff. These approaches are adaptable for academic debate in class or student union discussions about their approach (including free speech policies) or a student society interested in working with another student society. This will often cause exasperation and compromise, but it will lead to appreciation of group work and will facilitate deal making that can enhance mutual understanding and recognition.

This work is particularly important given the ‘free speech/ culture war’ being conducted against universities, academics and students, the manipulation of behaviour online and the likelihood of the Free Speech in HE Bill passing into legislation soon. With this approach universities can support students safely. The sessions provide core training for this versatile approach.

The Community of Inquiry workshops are part of an AHRC funded project.


Professor Alison Scott-Baumann, SOAS


For enquiries please contact Gwenith Cross