The Second Annual Goldfarb Center Freedom of Expression Symposium (GFES) is an innovative program that 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 discuss and provides a model for encouraging free expression of differing ideas and opinions and the civil discourse of those thoughts.

The structure:

Held on April 16th, 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 six proposals to develop posters that represent various sides of the issue; each individual proposal, however, need not present contending perspectives.

The prizes:

Six semi-finalists will be chosen from the submissions by a panel of judges; these proposals will win $300. A panel of judges will then select three finalists. These finalists will win an additional $300 and will then move on to a presentation. The judges will select a winner, who will receive an additional $1400, and a runner-up, who will receive $400.

In addition to the panel of judges, we will have a student-choice award. Students will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite poster by participating in a poll on the Goldfarb Center Instagram page (@goldfarbcenter.) The winner of this award will receive an additional $500. 

(These awards may have to take the form of research/internship grants to avoid reducing financial aid.)

The topic: Racial Wealth Inequality

The Goldfarb Freedom of Expression Symposium (GFES) for 2019-2020 will tackle questions of racial wealth inequality. Growing gaps between income earners undermine the legitimacy of democratic systems and the credibility of liberal capitalism. Technological change is likely to deepen the divide, accentuating barriers to mobility.

“The median Black family, with just over $3,500, owns just 2 percent of the wealth of the nearly $147,000 the median White family owns. The median Latino family, with just over $6,500, owns just 4 percent of the wealth of the median White family.”

To find more information on racial wealth inequality, follow this link.

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?

Policy Brief Requirements

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 Assistant Director of the Goldfarb Center, Sherry Berard ( Please include your current syllabus and your anticipated plans for the module. Grants will be considered on a rolling basis as funds allow.