top of page

Campus Center Ballroom

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222  See map.

Registration required


Suzanne Nossel, Dare to Speak

Suzanne Nossel

7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 14, 2023

Join UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez and the NYS Writers Institute for an open conversation about the value of free speech on America’s college campuses, featuring the leadership of PEN America, the nation’s preeminent organization for promoting free expression. In addition to fighting censorship and defending writers and artists in the U.S. and throughout the world, PEN has issued the “PEN America Principles on Campus Free Speech,” a guide for students and educators.

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, is the author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All (paperback, 2021), a manual for promoting the exchange of ideas in an age of censorship, book banning, cancel culture, social media storms, and campus controversies. Salman Rushdie said, “In our censorious age of easy outrage, when it’s harder than ever to defend our right to express contentious ideas, Suzanne Nossel remains convinced that bigotry and intolerance can be fought without giving way on the principle of free speech…. An authoritative, essential book.”

Presented as part of the University at Albany Free Speech and Civil Discourse: Our Rights, Our Responsibilities symposium, to take place Thursday and Friday, Sept. 14-15.

Cosponsored by the President’s Committee on Free Speech and the Honors College.

In the press 

"Should all speech be free? If not, who controls it? This brave, wise, succinct book is a must-read for writers, speakers, teachers, journalists, and, well, anyone who talks." — Margaret Atwood

“In our censorious age of easy outrage, when it’s harder than ever to defend our right to express contentious ideas, Suzanne Nossel remains convinced that bigotry and intolerance can be fought without giving way on the principle of free speech, and makes her case eloquently, and - even better - usefully. An authoritative, essential book.” — Salman Rushdie

"In this essential volume, Suzanne Nossel passionately and convincingly argues for free speech, a liberty that is increasingly under attack throughout the world. Drawing on her experiences at the State Department and at PEN America, the author provides a critically important primer for those who seek to secure freedom of expression in our 'diverse, digitalized, and divided culture.'" — Henry Louis Gates,

“As a prominent defender of outspoken wordsmiths, Suzanne Nossel knows a thing or two about free speech, and she makes a powerful case that freedom of expression is not just compatible but necessary for the advancement of equality and human rights.”  — Steven Pinker

Suzanne Nossel, credit Beowulf Sheehan

(Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

From the publisher:

Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In an era where one tweet can launch—or end—your career, and where free speech is often invoked as a principle but rarely understood, learning to maneuver the fast-changing, treacherous landscape of public discourse has never been more urgent.


In Dare To Speak, Suzanne Nossel, a leading voice in support of free expression, delivers a vital, necessary guide to maintaining democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of the rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions in a changing country. Centered on practical principles, Nossel’s primer equips readers with the tools needed to speak one’s mind in today’s diverse, digitized, and highly-divided society without resorting to curbs on free expression.

At a time when free speech is often pitted against other progressive axioms—namely diversity and equality—Dare To Speak presents a clear-eyed argument that the drive to create a more inclusive society need not, and must not, compromise robust protections for free speech. Nossel provides concrete guidance on how to reconcile these two sets of core values within universities, on social media, and in daily life. She advises readers how to:

  • Use language conscientiously without self-censoring ideas;

  • Defend the right to express unpopular views;

  • And protest without silencing speech.

Nossel warns against the increasingly fashionable embrace of expanded government and corporate controls over speech, warning that such strictures can reinforce the marginalization of lesser-heard voices. She argues that creating an open market of ideas demands aggressive steps to remedy exclusion and ensure equal participation.

Replete with insightful arguments, colorful examples, and salient advice, Dare To Speak brings much-needed clarity and guidance to this pressing—and often misunderstood—debate.

bottom of page