AUBURN, Ala. (EETV)– Following the launch of Auburn University’s Critical Conversations Speaker Series this fall, the university has announced the slate of distinguished scholars and thought leaders who will visit the campus in spring 2018.

Representing diverse perspectives on topics that include free speech, women, diversity in STEM and intellectual diversity, the spring slate will kick off with Robert Shibley, executive director of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, on Feb. 13. Additional speakers include Reshma Saujani, author and founder and CEO of Girls Who Code; Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars; and New York Times columnist and best-selling author Frank Bruni.

“Given the success of the fall series, we are excited to add these important voices to the conversation,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, Auburn University vice president and associate provost for inclusion and diversity. “While the primary goal of the series is to highlight the value of diverse discourse, the spring slate offers differing perspectives that provide an important balance to our fall speakers.”

Designed to foster a campus dialogue surrounding issues of free speech and intellectual and civil discourse, the series has engaged more than 2,000 members of the campus community since its kick off in early fall. In its first semester, the series welcomed prominent scholars Cornel West and Robert George, and thought leaders Howard Ross, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager and Derald Wing Sue.

Building on the momentum of the series, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity has encouraged Auburn faculty, staff and students to initiate their own critical conversations by promoting open discussion sessions and offering coffee vouchers. As part of the unit’s broader inclusion and diversity efforts, the conversations have explored topics such as unconscious bias, gender differences in society, microagressions and cultural barriers.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to create a signature speaker series that advances campus education and increases engagement around topics of diversity and inclusion science,” said Benson Clayton. “To see so many members of our campus embrace these opportunities for dialogue demonstrates the true impact of the series.”