Practicing Freedom of Expression

Beyond a strong understanding of the constitutional and legal principles of freedom of speech, we are committed to reinforcing the many ways in which we practice freedom of expression with active listening, respectful discourse, and open dialogue.

We seek to build on the many learning opportunities in our close-knit campus community, programs in the CARE Center, training in dialogue and academic freedom in orientation and the College more broadly, inclusive pedagogy in the Center for Teaching and Learning, Athenaeum programs and conferences, and a full range of research opportunities on complex issues and skills in collaborative leadership, as supported by our centers and institutes.

First-Year Orientation

First-Year Orientation is designed to introduce students and their families to the College's traditions, academic programs, and student life as well as to help students meet new people and learn more about the college experience. From the start of students’ experience at CMC, we endeavor to condition them, through awareness and concrete skill building, to embrace challenging college experiences as opportunities to learn and grow with one another. Programs include:

First-Year Guides (FYG) and Resident Assistants (RA)

FYGs and RAs are trained in communication skills and dialogue facilitation. FYGs also take part in a multi-hour session on “telling your story” centered on self-reflection, articulation of their own first-year experience, and strategies to help first-year students feel confident in expressing themselves, and celebrating the many different experiences and perspectives of their classmates.

Family Orientation Sessions

Families are an important support resource for most students, especially those in their first year of college. Summer webcasts are offered by the Dean of Students office so families can become familiar with our approach to developing students’ self-authorship. At CMC, students are pressed to explore, be intellectually curious, and reflect deeply on how their education informs their sense of self and contributions to others. Through cognitively dissonant experiences – in the classroom, on athletics fields, through research and summer experiences, and so many other co-curricular opportunities – students grapple with concepts of self in relation to their own sources of identity, their relation to others, and their relation to the world.

During new student orientation, families are invited to join their students in a session with the Vice President of Academic Affairs and other faculty to discuss CMC’s institutional ethos that values freedom of expression and academic freedom as necessary conditions for a liberal arts education. Students and families explore what it means to exercise the right to academic freedom and to practice academic inquiry even when faced with fundamental and serious intellectual disagreements.


First-Year Orientation includes the workshops Dialogue Matters Part 1 – a two-hour session intended to facilitate exploration of personal and community identity and to learn and practice dialogue strategies for communicating across difference; and Dialogue Matters Part 2 – conversations that build on prior orientation sessions in a deeper examination of difference and application of dialogue skills. CMC faculty and staff with expertise in these areas are present at each workshop to help guide discussions.

First-Year Dinner

During the First-Year Dinner, faculty experts model the sort of intellectual rigor and deep inquiry expected of CMC students. In their inaugural Athenaeum dinner, the first-year class joins the faculty in an interactive exploration of a “common read” literature selection. Together, they grapple with the text and are pressed to apply clear, reasoned, and evidence-based thinking as they consider the themes and complexities of the literature. The faculty model this engagement, encouraging students to consider multiple perspectives and to communicate their positions with clarity and focus. Faculty teaching in the First-Year Writing Seminar often include further analysis of the common read in their courses.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum hosts speakers with expertise and insight on a wide range of topics, both historical and contemporary. In the past decade, Athenaeum speakers have included: David Brooks, Laverne Cox, Maureen Dowd, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Jonah Goldberg, Jonathan Haidt, Anita Hill, William Kristol, Stanley McChrystal, Charles Murray, Robert Reich, Condoleezza Rice, Mitt Romney, Nate Silver, Nadine Strossen, George Will, and many others. The Athenaeum schedule regularly includes speakers who address issues of freedom of speech and academic freedom.

CARE Center

The CARE Center (Civility, Access, Resources, and Expression) is an innovative undertaking that seeks to proactively engage and educate the community. The Center seeks to build capacity in communicating across difference with respect and civility. We are challenging ourselves to achieve the dual goal of providing space for dialogue and expression in a civil manner while also providing resources to support inclusion and remove institutional barriers to student success. Programs include:

Values, Identity, Scholarship, and the Arts (VISA)

In association with the Dean of the Faculty’s Office, the VISA program provides an opportunity for faculty and staff to gather with students and share how their careers choices have been shaped by their social identities and life experiences.

Real Talk series

Each month, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion leads discussions about topical issues arising from current events. The program provides an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to consider questions of social identity and expression in contemporary society.

Educational workshops

The CARE center hosts monthly trainings and interactive workshops to enhance the understanding of, and appreciation for, the diversity that makes up our campus community. Through guided self-reflection, academic exercises, and practice, participants develop behavioral skills that contribute to a more inclusive environment.

Faculty Training

The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning

The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning exists to enhance teaching and learning at the Claremont Colleges. By offering support for faculty in their pursuit of teaching excellence, CMC is better positioned to promote the intellectual and personal growth of all students at The Claremont Colleges.

Institutes and Centers

The research institutes and centers at Claremont McKenna College have one common goal: to provide CMC students with graduate-level research opportunities in conjunction with the College's distinguished faculty. In so doing, CMC students—as undergraduates—have unparalleled opportunities to engage with the leading minds on a wide array of complex issues, with an emphasis on the value of freedom of expression and at times a focus on the substantive issues relating to freedom of expression. See, for example, upcoming programs at the following centers and institutes:

Berger Institute

Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Financial Economics Institute

Gould Center

Keck Center

Kravis Leadership Institute

Lowe Institute

Mgrublian Center on Human Rights 

Roberts Environmental Center

Rose Institute

Salvatori Center