Videos on Free Speech Principles


First Amendment Watch, in partnership with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has developed a series of videos universities can use to teach students about free speech rights and the principles behind the First Amendment. The short video lessons can be used over zoom classes, assigned as homework, or shared on advisory pages to discuss the role of free speech and academic freedom in university life.

Please let us know if you have any questions, or tell us how you plan to use the videos by writing to firstamendment@nyu.edu.

Academic Freedom

The principles behind academic freedom are important for students to understand in any college classroom. This video covers the value of academic freedom in higher education, the rights of faculty, and how students can handle disagreements with their professors.


Offensive Speech on Campus

Offensive speech is nearly unavoidable in diverse environments such as college campuses. With the help of Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU, this video teaches students how to cope with and respond to offensive speech. Additionally, it teaches why the First Amendment protects “hate speech” and when speech loses First Amendment protection.


Campus Speakers and Counter-Protests

When controversial speakers are brought to campus, students often have questions about why such speakers are allowed to have a platform and how to respond productively to speakers they disagree with. This video covers topics such as viewpoint neutrality in administrative decision-making, freedom of association for student groups, counter-protests, and other methods of dissent.


Limits to Free Speech Orientation

Teach incoming students about when speech crosses the line and loses First Amendment protection. This module focuses primarily on defining and providing examples of harassment, true threats, intimidation, and other unlawful conduct. With this knowledge, students can more accurately gauge when their speech, or their peers’ speech, may be impermissible or may result in violations of others’ rights.


Talking Across Differences

When students enter college, they will meet people from all walks of life with different opinions, experiences, and backgrounds. This can be a difficult environment to adapt to, so it is important to help students develop the ability to talk across their differences. This skill will help students become more inquisitive and confident in their own knowledge.


Student Protest Then and Now

Introduce students to the history of student protest on campus and how activists throughout history laid the groundwork for today’s robust protections for student speech. By highlighting the role of university students in the Civil Rights Movement and in fighting McCarthy era censorship, this video is meant to empower students to be active participants in their university community.