Published: Feb. 28, 2024

The Frontier of Free Speech: Are There Boundaries? 

Part of the CHA's Difficult Dialogues: Community Conversations series and Colorado Chautauqua's Voices at Chautauqua series.

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For this second event in the series, the Center for Humanities & the Arts (CHA) and Colorado Chautauqua are hosting a community conversation about the first amendment and freedom of speech. Are there boundaries to what speech can and should be shared publicly? Are there costs to free speech?

The Difficult Dialogues series brings together local voices to explore complex topics, fostering a mutual understanding and a respectful discourse. Difficult Dialogues events aim to create a space for grappling with tough subjects that people may find difficult or uncomfortable to talk about. These events are not debates but platforms for thoughtful exchange.

Our purpose is to hold dialogues on topics considered difficult, provocative, or controversial, among constituents that may have strong conflicting views. Our objective is NOT to necessarily agree, fix anything, prove anyone right or wrong, or alter anyone’s position. 

We are committed to fostering productive dialogues in the hopes that minds and hearts might expand. We ask that you:

  1. Keep an open mind 
  2. Be respectful of others 
  3. Listen with the intent to understand 
  4. Speak your own truth

We expect to experience discomfort when talking about hard things. Remain engaged and recognize that the discomfort can lead to problem-solving and authentic understanding. 


Michele Moses

Michele Moses, Professor and Vice Provost, CU Boulder

A well-known scholar in the areas of philosophy of education, policy, and ethics, Professor Michele Moses was recruited to CU Boulder in 2005 and was thrilled to return to CU after having received two graduate degrees here. A philosopher by training, Professor Moses has particular expertise in policy disagreements that involve race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality; moral and political values; democracy and the public good; and equality of educational opportunity.

She has been serving as CU Boulder's Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs since 2019, after serving as Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Before that, as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the School of Education, Professor Moses founded CU Boulder’s Master’s in Higher Education Program. She has been a Fulbright New Century Scholar, was awarded CU Boulder’s Hazel Barnes Prize, and is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Her work has appeared in the top journals in her field including the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Harvard Educational Review, Journal of Higher Education, and Journal of Social Philosophy. In addition, Professor Moses is the author of Living with Moral Disagreement: The Enduring Controversy about Affirmative Action (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Embracing Race: Why We Need Race-Conscious Education Policy (Teachers College Press, 2002), and co-editor of Affirmative Action Matters: Creating Opportunities for Students around the World (Routledge, 2014).

In her role as Vice Provost, Professor Moses aims to help foster among faculty a sense of belonging and community on campus, so that faculty members feel supported, informed, and valued. She provides strategic direction for a variety of activities associated with faculty life and academic programming on the Boulder campus centered around four key areas: faculty development and support, faculty personnel actions, academic program review, and faculty data and impact. A first-generation college graduate, Professor Moses holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, an MEd in higher education and student affairs from the University of Vermont, and an MA in Philosophy and PhD in Educational Foundations and Policy from here at CU Boulder.


Patrick O’Rourke

Patrick O’Rourke, COO & adjunct law professor, CU Boulder

Patrick O'Rourke is Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Colorado Boulder. In this role, he is responsible for the operation of the Strategic Resources and Support (SRS) team, which provides operational support for the campus in human resources, information technology, enrollment management, budget and finance, strategic communications, compliance and security, institutional equity and compliance, health and wellness services, and infrastructure and sustainability. SRS partners with the academic administration and faculty to support the university’s mission of teaching, research and service.

Previously, O’Rourke served as Vice President, University Counsel and Secretary of the CU Board of Regents from 2012 through 2020, where he was responsible for coordinating the university’s legal affairs and assisting the board in its governance role. Before serving in that role, he was responsible for overseeing the university’s litigation. He teaches as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Law and the Colorado School of Public Health on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

O’Rourke received his undergraduate degree from Creighton University and his law degree from The Georgetown University Law Center. He is active in the community and has served as a board member of the Denver School of Science and Technology, the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, and the Colorado Judicial Institute.


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