CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A series of discussions on potentially divisive issues involving campus and community stakeholders begins next week with a session on Native imagery, followed a week later by another gathering on the topic of free speech.
The “Chancellor’s Critical Conversations” series is a reprisal of a concept University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones has deployed at other universities, with a goal of using respectful dialogue to break down the barriers that often separate people on contentious issues.
“Public universities like ours have a responsibility to be the place where public and open conversations about even the most difficult ideas and issues take place," Jones said. “As a society, we will not find new solutions to our most pressing challenges if we cannot even talk about them. That's what we envision for this series. These conversations are a first step in understanding different perspectives and finding common ground to move us forward and beyond the issues that divide us.”
The two events will employ different formats. The Native imagery conversation will involve two presenters, followed by small-group conversations. The free speech event will involve a discussion between two panelists, followed by a moderated Q&A period.
Audio and video recording of these events will not be permitted.
The Native imagery conversation will take place April 10 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the multipurpose room on the second floor of the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building, 301 E. Gregory Drive, Champaign. Kevin Gover, the director of the National Museum of the American Indian, and Dan Maloney, an Illinois alumnus and former portrayer of Chief Illiniwek, will provide context for the conversation.
Registration for the Native imagery conversation is required. There is a fee to park on the campus. Information on parking is available at parking.illinois.edu.
The second conversation, on the topic of free speech, occurs April 17 from noon to 1 p.m. in Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana. Speakers will be Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; and Geoffrey Stone, a former law school dean and former provost at the University of Chicago.
Registration is not required for the conversation on free speech, and parking is available in the Krannert Center parking garage and at metered spaces surrounding the Center.
“Chancellor’s Critical Conversations” is designed to explore difficult issues and answer challenging questions together, as a university community. The goal of each event is to challenge beliefs, opinions and viewpoints through careful listening and the thoughtful expression of different voices, perspectives and ideas.