Thank you for your interest in the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement 2024-2025 Fellows Program.


About the Center
The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement explores the intersection of expression, engagement and democratic learning and considers what can be done to restore trust in the value of free speech on college campuses and within society at large. 

Born at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, the Free Speech Movement changed the way Americans viewed the First Amendment. Today, a renewed wave of activism, controversy and backlash on college campuses is once again forcing institutions of higher education to grapple with questions of open expression and civic engagement. 

Continuing UC’s legacy of leading edge influence, the Center seeks to help move this conversation from soundbites to thoughtful dialogue. Through research, advocacy, and discussion, the Center is dedicated to ensuring that all higher education stakeholders are prepared to understand, defend, and advance these values.

About the Fellowship
Each year, the Center selects Fellows from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds such as law, journalism, higher education, social science, technology and government.  

The Center welcomes candidates from all backgrounds to apply, and invites a wide range of innovative projects. As part of the University of California, the Center is committed to promoting diversity and equal opportunity in its education, services and administration, as well as research and creative activity. We are focused on projects that address current issues affecting students, staff, administrators and faculty and will have a direct impact on individuals and communities across campuses. Work products can take many forms such as (but not limited to) qualitative/quantitative research, curricular modules, toolkits or training programs/pilots. For more information about the work of previous Fellows, click here

As a Center Fellow, you will be welcomed into a community of practitioners, educators and students who share the common purpose of advancing the mission of the Center. Incoming Fellows are connected with former Fellows and become part of a larger UC-wide and national network of scholars, educators, practitioners and activists. 

The one-year fellowship will run from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025.

This year we are particularly interested in issues that explore the connections between higher education and democracy such as: 

  • Relationships between free speech, falsehoods, disinformation/misinformation and artificial intelligence.
  • Effective methods to teach and build skills for dialogue across difference and encourage robust conversation in and out of the classroom; 
  • The connections between international events and expression on campus; 

We also welcome additional themes, topics and activities that fit within the Center’s mission which may include (not an exhaustive list):

  • How best to safeguard academic freedom in response to the national and global climate including legislative assaults and other threats to the creation and transmission of knowledge;
  • Exploring the interaction between diversity, inclusion and expression on campus;
  • Navigating values-based polarization and political partisanship in higher education;
  • Higher education’s role in supporting democracy and democratic learning;
  • How to incorporate civic engagement and democratic learning into everyday life and learning on campus;
  • Understanding what motivates civic engagement among diverse campus groups.

This is not a residential fellowship. Selected fellowships will be awarded $20,000 to support their work, and up to $5,000 in research funds will be available as needed.

Fellows are expected to participate in monthly meetings (virtual) and two one-day colloquia on a UC campus, at the UC Center in Washington, D.C. or virtually. Travel and accommodations will be covered by the Center if applicable.

Involvement and interaction with the UC community is critical to the Center’s mission. Over the course of the program, Fellows will be provided access to resources and connections throughout the 10-campus UC system as befits their research.

Applications are due by Friday, March 15 at midnight. If you have questions, please feel free to contact freespeechcenter@uci.edu



Welcome to the 2024-2025 Senior Fellows Program Application

This program is open to current and former Center Fellows who would like to build on the work done during their fellowship year.

About the Senior Fellowship
Many fellows have expressed that a year is enough time to complete a project or research, but typically not enough time to see it in action. The Senior Fellows program offers a chance to do just that. A Senior Fellow’s work product can take many forms such as (but not limited to) qualitative/quantitative research, curricular modules or training programs/pilots.

In addition to producing “work product” over the course of the year, Senior Fellows will also be responsible for:

Advising incoming Fellows
This will include meeting monthly (virtually) with current Fellows (typically for one hour) in order to counsel them on project-related issues including how to promote their research/findings as well as being available to consult with incoming Fellows one-on-one as needed.

Serving on the selection committees for incoming Fellows, Senior Fellows and VOICE;
Selection committee activities typically occur in March for incoming/senior Fellows and in May for VOICE awardees.

Acting as an ambassador for the Center
Senior Fellows are expected to raise the Center’s profile and promote its programming and resources. This could include representing the Center at an event or conference or speaking on a panel.

Senior Fellows will work closely with Center staff on all of the above.

The one-year fellowship will run concurrently with the incoming Fellows, from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025.

This is not a residential fellowship. Selected Senior Fellows will be awarded $25,000 to support their work, and up to $5,000 in research funds will be available as needed.

Additional Information
In addition to participating in monthly virtual meetings (as described above) Fellows are expected to attend two one-day colloquia on a UC campus, at the UC Center in Washington, D.C. or virtually. Travel and accommodation will be covered by the Center if applicable.

Involvement and interaction with the UC community is critical to the Center’s mission. Over the course of the program, Senior Fellows will be provided access to resources and connections throughout the 10-campus UC system as befits their research.

Applications are due by Friday, March 15 at midnight. If you have questions, please feel free to contact freespeechcenter@uci.edu.

Thank you for nominating a UC Faculty Member to the Academic Advisory Board of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.

The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, founded in 2017, explores the intersection of expression, engagement and democratic learning and considers what can be done to restore trust in the value of free speech on college campuses and within society at large. Through research, advocacy, debate and discussion, the Center is dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of leaders is prepared to understand, defend and advance these values. It is hard to imagine a time when the issues of expression and democratic learning are more urgent.

An integral part of the Center is its Academic Advisory Board (AAB).This Board is ideally comprised of at least one member from each UC campus and represents the diversity of UC’s academic disciplines.

Appointments to the Board are for 3 years.

Responsibilities of Board members include: 

  • Advising the Center on its research and programming initiatives, including annual selection of Fellows and VOICE (Valuing Open and Inclusive Conversation and Engagement) grantees;
  • Serving as a liaison between Center Fellows and appropriate campus resources in order to advance the Fellows’ research.  AAB members will also help arrange opportunities (i.e. public talks, roundtables, classroom visits) for the Fellows to share their expertise;
  • Participating in Center programming when appropriate;
  • Attending at least two meetings per academic year (virtually).

AAB members are invited attend and participate in Center programming, including our annual #SpeechMatters conference. This year’s conference – “Politics, Polarization and Perils on Campus” is taking place virtually on April 18, 2024, from 8:30 am – 12:30 pm PT. 

Individuals may nominate themselves or be nominated by others. Nominations include a one-page statement of qualifications and interest.  Nominations are due by Friday, March 22, 2024.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact freespeechcenter@uci.edu

UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement