Blue graphic with background image of people brainstorming in a conference room. Left panel has white text reading “presented by:” and the logo of the Lumina Foundation and the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.  Right panel includes the heading in white text “Advancing the Mission of Higher Education in a Polarized Environment” with the subtitle in a yellow box with blue text “An Institute for Administrators, Legal Counsels and Faculty” in the bottom right corner is another yellow box with blue text reading “Oct 26 and 27 2023 in Irvine, CA.”  

The UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement and the Lumina Foundation are pleased to share the application for Advancing the Mission of Higher Education in a Polarized Environment, a one-and-a-half-day in-person institute. No matter your role within a college or university we all must contend with external forces endeavoring to influence the direction of the institution. These pressures include legislative efforts to undermine academic freedom and the protections that tenure provides, advocacy groups wielding the threat of a lawsuit, and donors who use financial incentives to exert control. These factors often result in a chilling effect on expression and dialogue, which is just beginning to be documented, and the ability to teach and learn in a productive environment. 

The Institute will take place on October 26-27 at or near the University of California - Irvine. The four sessions “Mission and Public Good,” “Academic Freedom,” “Legal and Political Threats,” and “Strategically Navigating the Current Climate,” will be facilitated by experts in the field and will be dynamic and interactive.

If selected, participants’ costs for travel, lodging and meals will be covered.

Who Should Apply?
This institute will bring together legal counsels, faculty members, and administrators from a variety of institutions to explore strategies for working together to advance the mission of higher education in nationally and locally politically polarized environments. We are interested in representatives from a wide variety of institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), regional colleges, community colleges, and large public institutions. 

How to Apply
Applicant should apply with: 

  • A current curriculum vitae/resume
  • Answer the following questions (up to 500 words each): 
  1. In what ways do you see the local, regional, or national political climate affecting your work at your institution?
  2. What do you hope to get out of your participation in the Institute?
  3. What do you bring in terms of experience and/or expertise that will benefit other institute participants’ learning? 

Applications must be received by 11:59 pm PT on Friday, July 21, 2023. Awardees will be notified by mid-August, 2023. 

If anyone has questions, they should reach out to

(Application questions marked with an * are required.)

UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement