Goldfarb Center Freedom of Expression Symposium (GFES)

We are excited to announce the pilot of the Goldfarb Center Freedom of Expression Symposium (GFES). This innovative program provides incentives for both faculty and students to consider opposing positions on a policy issue, engage in multidisciplinary research, and draw evidence-based conclusions.   

The concept:

The Symposium invites Colby students to study an important public policy issue, both as presenters and attendees, and exposes them to competing perspectives on that topic. We hope that awards offered by the Freedom of Expression Symposium will provide an incentive to students to conduct independent research on the topic as parts of papers assigned in classes. It also encourages faculty to further discussion and provide a model for encouraging free expression of differing ideas and opinions and the civil discourse of those thoughts.

The structure:

Held around April/early May, the Symposium will be open to the entire college community and will consist of student poster presentations that encompass a wide range of viewpoints on the selected subject.  

In the spring, students will be invited to submit a proposal for a poster session in the Freedom of Expression Symposium on the selected issue. Students may submit individually or in groups of two or three. The GFES board will choose ten proposals to develop posters that represent various sides of the issue; each individual proposal, however, need not present contending perspectives.

The prizes:

The ten projects selected will receive a student prize of $250.  During an open reception, members of the GFES board (along with input by attendees via a real time google doc) will select four of the ten to make 5-7 minute oral presentations of their work; these semi-finalists will receive an additional $250.  After these presentations, the first runner up will receive an additional $500 and the winner $1,500. (These awards may have to take the form of research/internship grants to avoid reducing financial aid.)

The topic: 

The topic in this pilot year is immigration. The Goldfarb Center kicked off our immigration theme with a lecture by Harvard Professor Roberto Gonzalez, author of DacaMented: Lives in Limbo on Monday, September 24.  One of Professor Gonzalez’s students, Alessandra Bazo Vienrich will offer a Jan Plan (GS 297) on immigration.  Early spring 2019 we will have a lecture by Alejandro Mayorkas, ‘P22, an immigration lawyer who rolled out DACA under President Obama. Visit our webpage on immigration for ideas, resources, and lecture summaries. We will also hear from Human Rights Watch’s director of the Americas division Jose Miguel Vivanco on April 15th on hemispheric migration in his talk “Populism and double standards: growing challenges to human rights in the Americas.”

For Faculty: 

This year—in addition to stipends approved by the Provost’s office for incorporating work on immigration into a Jan Plan or early in a second semester class—faculty advising an accepted proposal submitted to the symposium will receive a $100 downtown gift certificate. To be eligible for a course enhancement stipend by adding a module to your Jan Plan or early in your second semester class, please send a short proposal to the Director of the Goldfarb Center, Patrice Franko ( Please include your current syllabus and your anticipated plans for the module. In this first year, grants will be considered on a rolling basis as funds allow, beginning on November 27.