Trustees | Cancel Culture

Building a Culture of Free Expression in the Online Classroom

a guide from The American Council of Trustees and Alumni
September 8, 2021 by ACTA Download PDF

Drawing on empirical data from student surveys, as well as insights from faculty and higher education leaders across the country, ACTA’s report details how the rapid shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the ongoing free speech crisis on college campuses, further suppressed viewpoint diversity, and encouraged more self-censorship among students. The report also delineates steps that faculty, administrators, and governing boards can take to help promote a culture of free expression in the online classroom.   

“The lifeblood of the liberal arts is debate, dialectic, inquiry, and challenge,” said Dr. Michael Poliakoff, president of ACTA. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has threatened the strength and even the survival of so many institutions, online education moved to the fore. We have seen that it can bless us with access to a vibrant exchange of ideas, but it also has the potential to eliminate the opportunity for growth of character and intellect.”

With the release of Building a Culture of Free Expression in the Online Classroom, ACTA identifies vulnerabilities in the remote learning environment that, if left unaddressed, will further imperil open dialogue. By implementing the strategies outlined in the report, colleges and universities will be prepared to address controversies when they happen and can shape an academic culture that celebrates viewpoint diversity and the free exchange of ideas.
To access the full report, click here.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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