Free Speech and Open Inquiry Series

"Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom - and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech." - Benjamin Franklin


The Free Speech and Open Inquiry series explores the role of freedom of speech and civil discourse in society. This series is sponsored by the NDSU Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise, the Institute for Humane Studies, and the Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth. 

These events are free and open to the public. Each lecture contains a presentation by a visiting scholar and a brief Q&A with the audience. 

When possible, each lecture is recorded and shared on our website and YouTube channel. Find them here

Steve Listopad
 Feb. 18   |     Minard 230      |     4 p.m. 

Hazelwood: 32 years of living with a bad SCOTUS decision, and what we're doing about it

Fifty years ago the Supreme Court decided that students don’t lose their freedom of expression at the schoolhouse gate. Thirty-two years ago the same court decided the exact opposite for student journalists. This presentation is a brief history of the Tinker and Hazelwood cases; their impacts on students, society and democracy; and what journalism advocates around the country are doing to restore the expression rights of student journalists one state at a time.


Speaker Spotlight

Steven Listopad is a lecturer and media adviser, as well as the internship coordinator, at Henderson State University in Arkansas. He advises the student newspaper, yearbook, website and advertising agency. He continues to teach journalism abroad in the summers and has taught in China, France, Italy, and Norway. Listopad is the founder of the national New Voices USA legislative campaign to protect the rights of student journalists. He led the passage of laws in North Dakota in 2015 and 2017, and in Arkansas in 2019, as part of the campaign. He continues to coordinate the New Voices USA website and the national campaign in conjunction with the Student Press Law Center. Listopad has previously served as an assistant professor of journalism and a student media director at the University of Jamestown and Valley City State University in North Dakota. He serves on the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro-Chapter Board of Directors, is a Certified Journalism Educator with JEA, and is completing his PhD at North Dakota State University. Listopad earned his bachelor and masters degrees in mass communication at North Dakota State University. 

Thomas Cushman
March 3     |     Minard 230      |     4 p.m.

Making Unpersons: The Emergence of Cancel Culture in Modern America

Liberal democracies are based on the idea of civil discourse and tolerance among citizens who hold different views. The presumption is that, no matter how stark our differences, we treat each other as persons, with respect and dignity in order to work through these differences. One of the most troubling developments in contemporary American society is the emergence of what is being called “cancel culture.” The current polarized cultural environment of American society has led to a degradation of mutual respect for the dignity of others. Instead, what has emerged is a situation in which those with conflicting ideas see those with different views as “bad persons”. They are to be shunned, ostracized, punished, in short, made into what might be called “unpersons.” The making of unpersons is a characteristic of intolerant, regressive societies and represents a troubling development for the future of liberal democratic societies. This talk examines the emergence of cancel culture and the prospects for how we might restore dignity and respect for others as persons in order to find common cause in efforts to promote human flourishing in a liberal democratic society.

Speaker Spotlight

Thomas Cushman is Deffenbaugh de Hoyos Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College. He is the founder of The Freedom Project at Wellesley College, which is devoted to the promotion of freedom of expression, pluralism, and tolerance in higher education. He served as its first director for six years. He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on authoritarian societies, human rights, genocide, and classical liberal social thought. His current book project is entitled Why Freedom of Expression Matters, to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in the fall of 2021. In 2019, he was appointed by the United States Commission on Civil Rights to a four-year term as a member of the USCCR Massachusetts State Advisory Committee. Cushman received his bachelors degree from St. Michael's College and his masters and doctorate degrees in sociology from the University of Virginia. 

Vernon Smith, Nobel laureate
March 27     |     AgCountry Auditorium      |     3 p.m.

Classical Economics: Lost and Found; Role of Experiments

Dr. Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics. His talk will focus on the rediscovery and rehabilitation of classical economics, which he described as an indirect and completely unexpected consequence of his work in experimental economics. He will discuss how neo-classical economics influenced early experimental market explorations and how those experimental explorations changed how we thought about markets, and eventually resurrected the dynamics of classical market price discovery processes. He will also discuss Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments as it relates to the origin and natural evolution of human sociability wherein civil discourse was an essential part of humanization. 

Speaker Spotlight

Dr. Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics. Dr. Smith has joint appointments with the Argyros School of Business and Economics and the Fowler School of Law, and he is part of a team that will create and run the new Economic Science Institute at Chapman.

Dr. Smith has authored or co-authored more than 300 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics. He serves or has served on the board of editors of the American Economic Review, The Cato Journal, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Science, Economic Theory, Economic Design, Games and Economic Behavior, and the Journal of Economic Methodology. He is past president of the Public Choice Society, the Economic Science Association, the Western Economic Association and the Association for Private Enterprise Education. Dr. Smith completed his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, his master's degree in economics at the University of Kansas, and his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University.



Top of page