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Threats to Higher Education in Florida: A Webinar
April 20 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
What are the threats to higher education in Florida, and how should we face them? Governor Ron DeSantis’ antagonistic actions towards the state’s public higher education institutions have highlighted a national trend: the hyper-politicization of colleges and universities, with state leaders and state-appointed university governing boards exercising more and more control over campuses and curriculums. This webinar brings together leaders—professors, students, and politicians—who will share their expertise and experiences on what’s been happening in Florida and what we can do.
Also, because the threats to higher education weigh heaviest on public colleges and universities, this webinar asks what those of us at private institutions like Duke can do, and how we can create cross-university solidarity during this time of threat.
This webinar is convened by Democracy & Higher Education, a project of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University directed by Eric Mlyn. Democracy and Higher Education gathers faculty, administrators, and members of the public to reflect on how the university should respond to ongoing threats towards democratic values and principles. We critically examine the current political debates surrounding higher education to identify areas for intervention while remaining unpartisan and embracing a view of the university as a place where different ideas come together. We will be hosting a monthly newsletter (please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list). We will also be convening a closed conference on Florida in December.
Robert Cassanello is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Central Florida and President of UCFʻs chapter’s union, United Faculty of Florida. He is a social historian interested in digital public history. His book To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville won the 2014 Harry Moore Award by the Florida Historical Society. He has also co-produced and co-directed numerous films about academic freedom in Florida that air on public television, including The Committee and Filthy Dreamers.
Anna V. Eskamani is a bold fighter for Florida families and everyday people. Born and raised in Orlando, she’s the daughter of working-class Iranian immigrants who came to this country in search of the American Dream. Anna went to public schools, the University of Central Florida, and is a nonprofit professional currently seeking her PhD in Public Administration. She ran for office as a first-time candidate in 2018, flipped a legislative seat, and is proud to serve as a State House Representative for District 42, winning both of her re-election campaigns in a landslide. A track record of kind sacrifice, endless hard work, and iron-clad values, Anna is known across the state and nation as a leader who is unbothered, unbossed, and committed to the people of Florida.
Sophia Brown is a fourth-year student at New College, studying English and Rhetoric in Writing. She is also the Editor in Chief of New College’s student-run newspaper, the Catalyst, and has recently published an opinion piece featured in CNN, “I chose New College because I didn’t have to leave my identity at the campus door.” She is especially passionate about how threats to educational freedom are impacting students in their day-to-day lives, particularly queer and BIPOC students.
Timothy Kaufman-Osborn is the Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership Emeritus at Whitman College. He is the author of numerous articles and several books on topics including higher education, capital punishment, feminist theory, and the discipline of political science. His most recent book, The Autocratic Academy: Reenvisioning Rule within America’s Universities, was published by Duke University Press earlier this month.
Eric Mlyn is Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Lecturer at the Sanford School for Public Policy, Duke University. His intellectual interests focus on the role of higher education in fostering democracy and working with undergraduates to foster political and civic engagement. He is the Co-Editor with Amanda Moore McBride of the book Connecting Social Innovation and Civic Engagement: Toward Higher Education’s Democratic Promise (2020).