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 provides 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: Inequality and Inclusive Growth

The Goldfarb Freedom of Expression Symposium (GFES) for 2019-2020 will tackle questions of inequality. Concerns for inclusion have gone mainstream.  As Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, notes, “Inclusive growth is one of the critical challenges of our time.”

Growing gaps between winners and losers are undermining the legitimacy of democratic systems and the credibility of liberal capitalism.  Technological change is likely to deepen the divide, accentuating barriers to mobility.

The many Democratic Party presidential hopefuls offer sound bites that hint at distributive changes in our system; Republicans are focusing on income-generating effects of growth. Both Senator Warren and President Trump have quarrels with Google and Amazon that point to concentration in markets and equality of access.  Others advocate universal basic income, progressive tax reform or baby bonds to open access to quality education.  What will Colby students propose?

For Faculty: 

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 (pmfranko@colby.edu). Please include your current syllabus and your anticipated plans for the module. Grants will be considered on a rolling basis as funds allow.