Spark | DU's Day of Free Expression & Pluralism

Join Spark 2024 on Tuesday, April 30

In its second year, Spark is back to ignite engaging conversations on the pressing issues challenging democracies and institutions worldwide. 

Register now to:   

  • Hear a conversation on whether our laws—or policies—protect hate speech. 

  • Explore the intersection of social justice and civil discourse. 

  • Debate about whether codes of conduct should include social media activity.

  • Anonymously share your free expression experience at DU. 

Don't miss out. Register now to secure your spot. 

Register at Crimson Connect

Spark 2024 Events

An array of microphones

Virtual Panel  

Is Hate Speech Protected? 

  • Time: 10 - 11:15 a.m. 
  • Location: Virtual 

Where is the line between free speech and hate speech? And how is that boundary defined by our laws vs. cultural, institutional or international norms?   

Join to hear national thought leaders and scholars on free speech, hate speech, the first amendment, feminism, social justice, technology, religion and media discuss these complex and deeply important questions.   


Derigan Silver
Derigan Silver, DU’s faculty director of freedom of expression and civil discourse initiatives and chair of the Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies.


Katia Campbell headshot
Katia Campbell, professor of communications studies at Metropolitan State University and co-author of 2009 book, Neo-Pragmatism, Communication, and the Culture of Creative Democracy 
Caitlin Carlson headshot
Caitlin Carlson, associate professor in communications at Seattle University and author of 2021 book, Hate Speech
greg lukianoff
Greg Lukianoff, CEO of Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression and author of several books including the 2018, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure
Eboo Patel headshot
Eboo Patel, director of Interfaith America and author of several books including the 2022, We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy


DU's braver angels debate

Lunch & Debate 

Should social media posts by students be subject to the University’s code of conduct?  

  • Time: Noon to 1:45 p.m. 
  • Location: Anderson Academic Commons 290 

Join us for a free Snarf’s lunch and take part in a debate on this complex topic. This non-competitive debate allows anyone in the room to speak, listen ask questions. It will also feature short speeches from different viewpoints featuring students, faculty, staff, or community members.   

Jeremy Johnson, assistant professor of rhetoric, will serve as chair for the debate.  

 Braver Angels logo

 Bridge USA logo

ACTA logo

This debate is part of the College Debate & Discourse Alliance, co-sponsored by Braver Angels, ACTA, and BridgeUSA. 


Audience at a panel

Expert Panel  

Dialogue Across Difference: An Interdisciplinary Conversation on Perceived Tensions Between Social Justice and Civil Discourse   

  • Time: 2:30 - 3:45 p.m. 
  • Location: Anderson Academic Commons 290 

Listen to a conversation between four esteemed DU community members with backgrounds ranging from public policy, international affairs, equity, foreign policy, history, comparative politics, and more. They will discuss civil discourse as part of the work of social justice, how civil discourse has been used a tool to engage across difference, as well as the limits of civil discourse when viewed through the structures of power.       


Tamra Pearson d’Estree, associate professor of conflict resolution in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver
Tamra Pearson d’Estree

Professor of conflict resolution in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Director of Global Environmental Sustainability MA, Global Environmental Change & Adaptation Certificate

Korbel Lead of International and Intercultural Communication Certificate

Coordinator of the Conflict Engagement and Resolution Initiative


Naazneen Barma
Naazneen Barma, founding director of DU’s Scrivner Institute of Public Policy and associate professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
Lauren Hammond
Lauren Hammond, DU’s inaugural assistant vice-chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion – academic engagement and historian.  
Liz Sheriden Sperber
Liz Sheridan Sperber, assistant professor in political science in DU’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  
Thomas Walker
Thomas Walker, senior project manager, strategic initiatives & support, Health & Counseling Center
spark event overhead photo

Anonymous Student Survey

Speak Up! Spark 2024  

Our commitment to pluralism and free expression doesn’t stop with Spark. We are interested in how our community perceives and engages with these topics every day. Complete this anonymous and confidential survey about the state of free expression at DU.  

Click for Survey