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Free Expression and Constructive Dialogue Research Event

February 12 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


In the Spring of 2019, professors Jennifer Larson (English and Comparative Literature), Mark McNeilly (Kenan-Flagler Business School), and Timothy Ryan (Political Science) began a multi-faceted study to better understand students’ experiences with free speech and constructive dialogue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The primary data-gathering tool for this study was a survey that all UNC undergraduates were invited to complete, but focus groups discussions with three politically active student organizations were also conducted. From this culminated research came twelve principle findings and a series of recommendations, all of which are detailed in a recently-released report.

During this event, Tim, Jennifer, and Mark will each discuss highlights from the report as well as the research process. This discussion will be followed by a Q&A led by UNC Professors Sarah Treul (Political Science) and Eric Muller (School of Law). The event is hosted by Andy Perrin, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities.

No RSVP is required. The event will be held in the University Room in Hyde Hall. 

  • Jennifer Larson is a teaching associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in UNC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her teaching and research interests include African American drama, Film Studies (especially race in contemporary cinema),  Environmental Humanities, and Rhetoric/Composition Studies (especially writing in/about law). Her most recent book, Understanding Walter Mosley (University of South Carolina Press), offers a critical overview of Mosely’s work across genres. She received her Ph.D. in English from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is the recipient of multiple teaching awards at UNC, including the Tanner award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2014.


  • Mark McNeilly teaches in the areas of marketing and organizational behavior in both the full-time MBA and online MBA@UNC programs. He serves as a faculty advisor for the STAR program and executive coach in the Leadership program. He has served as a global marketing executive and has several years of experience with both IBM and Lenovo in the IT industry. His business background includes branding, strategy, marketing, market intelligence, management, manufacturing and personnel. He is the author of a popular strategy book based on Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” titled “Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers” as well as “George Washington and the Art of Business: Leadership Principles of America’s First Commander-in-Chief,” both from Oxford University Press. He received his MBA with honors from the University of Minnesota.


  • Timothy Ryan is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. He studies how aspects of human psychology interact with the American political system, with consequences for the spread of information, comity among everyday citizens, and democratic health more generally. His dissertation, which won the 2015 American Political Science Association award for Best Dissertation in Political Psychology, examines citizens’ intuitions about morality. Ryan documents that liberals and conservatives “moralize” politics to a nearly equal degree, though they moralize different issues. The research also shows that moral psychology leads citizens to oppose political compromises, punish compromising politicians, and proffer divisive political arguments, suggesting it is partly responsible for the rise in political polarization. Ryan’s in-progress research projects examine the antecedents and consequences of implicit attitudes (gut feelings) about political candidates, as well as the role of citizens’ capacity to develop expertise about specific issues that directly affect their lives.


  • Sarah A. Treul is a Bowman and Gordon Gray Term Professor of political science at UNC. She specializes in American political institutions, with an emphasis on the U.S. Congress. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from Wellesley College and her M.A and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Her current work examines the role of previous political experience and anti-establishment rhetoric on the success of congressional candidates and vote choice in the electorate. Other ongoing projects analyze the role of experience and ideology on legislative effectiveness in Congress, how extreme ideological primary challenges influence congressional behavior, and the effect of public opinion on congressional outcomes. She is the recipient of UNC’s Tanner Award for Teaching Excellence, the Chapman Family Teaching Award, Honors Carolina’s Manekin Award for Teaching Excellence, and the department of political science’s Robson Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction.


  • Eric Muller is the Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina School of Law. He is the author of “Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II” (University of Chicago Press 2001)and “American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II” (UNC Press 2007)and editor of “Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II” (UNC Press 2012). He’s the creator of the podcast “Scapegoat Cities,” which tells as-yet-untold stories of Japanese Americans’ experiences of removal, imprisonment, and efforts at obtaining compensation after the war.  He’s at work on a new book about the lawyers who helped to run the War Relocation Authority’s concentration camps for Japanese Americans.


  • Andrew Perrin is a professor of sociology and has been a member of the Carolina faculty since 2001. An accomplished and interdisciplinary scholar, he has conducted research on the cultural sociology of democracy, health messages in children’s movies and translations of postwar Frankfurt School theory, among other work. As a professor of sociology specializing in research on the value of humanities scholarship and education for democratic citizenship, he brings a unique set of skills to support arts and humanities faculty across a spectrum of departments in the College of Arts & Sciences. Perrin was a faculty fellow in 2007 and 2016 and completed the Academic Leadership Program in 2010. He was a member of the IAH Faculty Advisory Board, the IAH external review committee, the Weil Lecture Selection Committee and the Johnston Prize Selection Committee. From 2016-2019, Perrin chaired the committee overseeing the General Education Curriculum revision, which resulted in the IDEAs in Action curriculum. In addition, he has served as director of the Carolina Seminars since 2014, increasing both the number and scope of these interdisciplinary seminars, and he revived the Douglass Hunt lecture series. He has served on Faculty Council, the Educational Policy Committee and the Faculty Athletics Committee, among other duties in service to Carolina.



February 12
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm


University Room, Hyde Hall
176 East Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3322 United States
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