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Fostering Thoughtful Discussions on American Freedom

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


The University of Mississippi’s Declaration of Independence Center is getting back to business with programs offered to students, faculty and the general public to engage in a thoughtful academic investigation of the nature of American freedom.

Created originally in 2007, the center was dormant in recent years until 2021, when Steven Skultety, chair of Philosophy and Religion, took over as director of the center.

Steven Skultety, chair of Philosophy and Religion, serves as the director of the Declaration of Independence Center at Ole Miss. Photo provided

Headquartered in Bryant Hall, the center’s mission is multifaceted, encompassing three distinct components: student-oriented, faculty-oriented, and public-facing activities.

“For the public, there is going to be a constant stream of lectures, maybe some conferences at some point,” Skultety said. “For students, there is a Freedom Studies minor being offered for the first time in the upcoming academic year. We’re going to be offering some scholarships and fellowships. And over the upcoming years, I’m hoping to sponsor individual research projects for faculty.”

The center is nonpartisan in nature, serving as a platform for diverse viewpoints and perspectives.

“It’s not affiliated or connected with a political party,” Skultety said. “It’s upstream from politics, is the way I like to think about it. We’re thinking about the ideas and ideals and influences that sort of precede actual political policy debates and things like that.”

Skultety said he hopes the center becomes a place where people can focus on the idea of freedom and join in discussions and debates about those topics.

“I like to think that universities function best when there’s a lot of viewpoint diversity and when the debates that we’re having have lots of different sides represented as part of those debates,” he said. “And so I’m really hoping that people feel like this is making the campus an engaged and pluralistic space.”

Sen. Tim Scott will be coming to the University of Mississippi on Sept. 29 for a free and public event. 

One of its upcoming public events will be a visit by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott on Sept. 29 for a discussion of the state of American democracy and the importance of restoring faith in the country.

The 7 p.m. event will take place in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. It will be free and open to the public. Scott was first invited in 2022 before tossing his hat into the Presidential race, Skultety said. However, Scott had to cancel, and his visit to Ole Miss was rescheduled for later this month.

“Senator Scott has this unique ability to be optimistic, and to have a positive vision for what America could be in ways in which everyone can see a future together,” Skultety said.

On Oct. 20, the center will host John McWhorter, a prominent African-American linguist at Columbia University. He will be speaking on how people can speak to each other in ways that cross ideological divides.

For more information, visit the center online at https://independence.olemiss.edu/.

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