The Purpose (and Limits) of the University

42 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2018

See all articles by John D. Inazu

John D. Inazu

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: February 26, 2018

Abstract

Scholars of the university have written volumes about contemporary challenges to higher education. Meanwhile, legal scholars writing about the university have typically focused on its First Amendment dimensions rather than on those challenges. This Article links insights from these two groups of scholars to clarify and defend the purpose of the public university against growing technological, ideological, and cultural pressures. It argues that a better understanding of the relationship between the First Amendment and the public university can help strengthen the coherence of the university’s purpose against growing technological, ideological, and cultural pressures. The connection between the First Amendment and institutional purpose is in some ways unsurprising. Limits on expressive liberties have always set the boundaries of expression for political communities, and the university is a kind of political community. These boundaries reflect something about a community’s goals, values, and ultimately, its purpose.

Part I briefly explores the nature of the university. Part II focuses more closely on the residential public university. Part III turns to five issues at the intersection of the First Amendment and the public university: academic freedom, public employee speech, public forums, safe spaces, and religious pluralism.

Keywords: First Amendment, universities, higher education, pluralism, disagreement, safe spaces, religion, public employee speech, public forum

Suggested Citation

Inazu, John D., The Purpose (and Limits) of the University (February 26, 2018). Utah Law Review, 2018 Forthcoming; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-02-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3130381

John D. Inazu (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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