UC National Center for Free Speech logo and CALL FOR FELLOWS in white on a blue background with images of 2021-22 fellows along the top and bottom in blue 


Thank you for your interest in the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement 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. Fellows receive funding to conduct research that furthers the national conversation related to expression and democratic participation on college campuses including how to advance campus dialogue, safeguard academic freedom and further diversity and inclusion.

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 especially interested in projects that address current issues affecting students, staff, administrators and faculty and will have a direct impact on individuals and communities across campus, particularly those from vulnerable or marginalized communities. 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, and activists.

Some examples of themes, topics and activities that fit within the Center’s mission include: 

  • Higher education’s role in supporting democracy and democratic learning
  • How to incorporate civic engagement and democratic learning into everyday life on campus
  • Understanding what motivates civic engagement among diverse campus groups
  • Effective methods to teach and build skills for dialogue across difference; encouraging robust conversation in the classroom
  • How best to safeguard academic freedom in response to the national and global climate
  • The pandemic's ongoing impact on free expression, activism and civic engagement
  • The relationship between free speech, facts and falsehoods amid campaigns of disinformation and misinformation
  • The impact of social media and other technological advancements like remote learning platforms on campus discourse
  • The interface between diversity, inclusion and expression on campus
  • Navigating values-based polarization and political partisanship in higher education
  • The connection between international events and expression on campus

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 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, Fellows will be provided access to resources and connections throughout the 10-campus UC system as befits their research.

Applications are due by Thursday, March 3 at midnight. If you have questions, please feel free to contact freespeechcenter@uci.edu

UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement