Shared Academic Experience: Class of 2025 and Transfer Students


Each year, a member of the Dartmouth faculty is asked to curate a Shared Academic Experience to meaningfully engage incoming students and encourage community dialogue and personal reflection.

This year, three professors will ask students to consider “Dealing with Disagreement” through productive dialogue and debate.  Sonu Bedi (Joel Parker 1811 Professor in Law and Political Science; Professor of Government; Hans '80 and Kate Morris Director of the Ethics Institute), Rebecca Biron (Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature; Director of the Leslie Center for the Humanities), and Russell Muirhead (Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics; Co-Director of the Political Economy Project) will engage the incoming class in a dynamic exploration of academic freedom and free speech.

As part of New Student Orientation, you will engage in the "Experience" through a Canvas website and a live event.

Lecture information

Thursday, September 9, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.

Join your classmates along with Professors Bedi, Biron, and Muirhead for your first official academic experience at Dartmouth.

A careful practice of disagreement defines open academic inquiry. That practice is not a bug but a feature of scholarly work. This shared academic experience seeks to introduce you to this practice through two texts and a video (available on Canvas) as well as the conversation about them. 

  • 2005 “Cardozo Lecture on Academic Freedom” by Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University
  • 2015 “Dialogue vs. Debate” document adapted by the United States Institute of Peace
  • 2009 “The Danger of a Single Story” TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In reading/watching these materials and then answering the questions we’ve posed to you about them before the lecture session, you will explore methods for dealing with contentious issues in the college environment and beyond. We will experiment with practices of disagreement together in the live meeting as a way of advancing our capacities for learning with and from fellow thinkers.


Sonu Bedi

Sonu Bedi has been teaching at Dartmouth since January 2007. He is the author of four books: Private Racism (Cambridge University Press 2019), Rejecting Rights (Cambridge University Press: 2009), Beyond Race, Sex, and Sexual Orientation: Legal Equality without Identity (Cambridge University Press: 2013), and Political Contingency (NYU Press: 2007) (co-editor). He has published articles in leading peer reviewed journals in political science and political theory as well in numerous law reviews. He was awarded the Jerome Goldstein Award for Distinguished Teaching twice, chosen by a vote of the class of 2014 and the class of 2017. His research interests are in the areas of contemporary political theory, constitutional law and theory, and race, law and identity. He holds a doctorate in political science from Yale and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He also worked as a litigation associate focusing on First Amendment law at Cahill, Gordon, and Reindel. He routinely teaches courses on constitutional law, civil liberties, legal theory, freedom of speech, and theories of justice.

Photo of Rebecca Biron

Rebecca E. Biron joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Program in Comparative Literature at Dartmouth in 2006, after having taught at the University of Miami, Emory University, and the University of Iowa. She served as Dartmouth's Dean of the College from 2015-2018 and is currently the Director of Dartmouth’s Leslie Center for the Humanities. She is the author of Elena Garro and Mexico’s Modern Dreams (Bucknell University Press: 2013), City-Art: the Urban Scene in Latin America (Duke University Press: 2009), and Murder and Masculinity: Violent Fictions of 20th Century Latin America (Vanderbilt University Press: 2000). Her research and teaching interests focus on Latin American literary and cultural studies, literary theory, gender studies, and Mexican cultural criticism. She has published articles on the relationship between narrative and violence as it pertains to masculinity, Latin American urban history, and Mexican literature and film. 

Photo of Russell Muirhead

Russell Muirhead teaches in classes in the Government Department such as “The Future of Capitalism,” “American Political Thought,” and, “Race, Justice, and the Law.” His most recent book, coauthored with Nancy Rosenblum, is on the effects of conspiratorial thinking for democracy: A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy.