Wisconsin Idea Spotlight

The Fight for Free Speech

March 4 - 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Online, join from anywhere
Cost: Free to attend


This event is central standard time (CST).

This program is free to attend, but registration is required. By registering, you’ll receive the link to attend on the day of the event. You will not need to download software to attend.

Wisconsin Idea Spotlight

Enlighten your mind and enrich your life by discovering UW–Madison’s world-changing advancements. This program, part of the Wisconsin Idea Spotlight series and presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association® (WAA), illuminates top UW experts and their innovative work.

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About the event

Join fellow Badgers at this timely, virtual event with media attorney and author of The Fight for Free Speech (NYU Press, 2021) Ian Rosenberg ’95 and UW professor emeritus Donald Downs, whose most recent book is Free Speech and Liberal Education (Cato Institute, 2020). Together they will discuss how contemporary free-speech questions facing our country and our campuses are impacted by key Supreme Court decisions featured in Rosenberg’s book. The discussion, moderated by Kathleen Bartzen Culver ’88, MA’92, PhD’99, a UW associate professor and the James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics, is intended to create a practical framework for understanding where our free-speech protections originated and how they can develop in the future. Gain a better understanding of free speech in America and get your questions answered during a live Q & A session.

The speakers and moderator

  • Ian Rosenberg — alumnus, author, teacher, and assistant chief counsel for ABC News
  • Donald Downs — Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Glenn B. and Cleone Orr Hawkins Professor of Political Science Emeritus, affiliate professor emeritus of law and journalism; UW–Madison
  • Kathleen Bartzen Culver ’88, MA’92, PhD’99 — UW associate professor and the James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics

About the speakers and moderator

Ian Rosenberg is author of The Fight for Free Speech: Ten Cases That Define Our First Amendment Freedoms, published in February 2021. Since 2003, he has provided ABC News clients with pre-broadcast counsel on newsgathering, libel, intellectual property, and FCC regulatory issues. In addition, Rosenberg teaches media law at Brooklyn College. He started his legal career as a clerk in the Eastern District of New York and as a litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel. He is also an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. Rosenberg graduated with distinction from the UW and magna cum laude from Cornell Law School.

Donald Downs is the director and cofounder of the UW’s Wisconsin Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy, which is dedicated to instilling critical knowledge and understanding of liberal democracies’ core principles, institutions, and processes, and to the advancement of intellectual diversity on campus. Downs also served as the director of the UW’s Legal Studies Program and its Center for the Study of Law, Society, and Justice. He was the president, and former secretary, of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights, a leading independent, nonpartisan faculty group. Since retiring, Downs has been the lead faculty adviser to the Free Speech and Open Inquiry Project of the Institute for Humane Studies in Washington, DC. His studies have specialized in a wide range of issues, such as freedom of speech, academic freedom, American politics, and political and legal movements. An author, Downs has earned numerous honors and awards for his works and teaching.

Kathleen Bartzen Culver is the James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics, an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication and director of the Center for Journalism Ethics. Long interested in the implications of digital media on journalism and public interest communication, Culver focuses on the ethical dimensions of social tools, technological advances and networked information. She combines these interests with a background in law and free expression. She also serves as visiting faculty for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and was the founding editor of PBS MediaShift’s education section.

Questions? Email Angeline Mboutngam ’19 or call 608-308-5161.

This program is held in partnership with the Wisconsin Union and is supported by the generosity of the Sandra G. Sponem Alumni Park Signature Program Series.

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