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Threats to Free Speech and Academic Freedom: A Roundtable Discussion

Saturday, June 4, 2022, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Both free speech and academic freedom are often said to be in crisis today.  Some diagnose a systematic assault on them by aspiring and practicing autocrats; others perceive the dangers emanating from liberal and left-wing actors who allegedly seek to create a “woke autocracy,” as an American conservative recently put it. For the former, self-declared illiberal regimes fundamentally undermine basic freedoms, including freedoms essential for the working of democracy; for their defenders, these regimes actually prove “safe spaces” for conservatives.

The roundtable will tackle fundamental conceptual issues – starting with the tendency to conflate free speech and academic freedom; it will also seek to place these freedoms in larger accounts of democracy; and, not least, it will ask what, empirically, the situation on the ground actually looks like on different sides of the Atlantic.

The event is organized in cooperation with Princeton University, Central European University, and the CEU Democracy Institute.


  • Renáta Uitz (Professor, CEU Legal Studies Department / Co-Director, CEU Democracy Institute)
  • Stephen J. Macedo (Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics at Princeton University)
  • Zoltán Miklósi (Associate Professor, CEU Department of Political Science / Research Affiliate, CEU Democracy Institute)
  • Jan-Werner Müller (Professor of Politics, Princeton University)
  • Andreas Schedler (Lead Researcher, De- and Re-Democratization Workgroup, CEU Democracy Institute)
  • Balázs Trencsényi (Professor, CEU History Department / Lead Researcher, Democracy in History Workgroup, CEU Democracy Institute)