Winter 2024 Provost Conversation

Winter 2024 Provost Conversation:

The Role and Value of Higher Education in a Democracy

Friday March 1, 2024

Featuring the insights and ideas of DU faculty experts, please join Provost Mary Clark for a morning of discussion at the Winter’24 Provost Conversation on “The Role and Value of Higher Education in a Democracy.” Recent events have made this an important and timely conversation that we, as a faculty, must consider together. 

Building on our Fall ‘23 conversation about “hot topics in the classroom,” this event aims to foster deeper understanding of the critical issues surrounding higher education’s impact on and role in a modern democracy. Please join Provost Mary Clark for a morning of thoughtful discussion and collaboration. 

Breakfast will be served. 

We strive to ensure we create an inclusive and welcoming space for all of our events. Please let us know about any accommodations you may need for the event by emailing the VPFA Office at

Event Schedule

Friday, March 1, 2024 Community Commons 1700

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Registration, Faculty Showcase, and Breakfast

Enjoy a gallery viewing of faculty-led initiatives that have positively contributed to democracy within and beyond the university community. 

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.


Welcome and Opening Remarks

Provost Mary Clark opens the conversation with insights on the fundamental and pivotal role that higher education plays in shaping and sustaining our democracy. 

9:15 -10:00 a.m.

Panel Discussion: Perspectives Across Disciplines 

An interdisciplinary panel featuring DU faculty members. 

Naazneen Barma, Associate Professor of International Studies, and Director, Scrivner Institute of Public Policy, Korbel school of International Studies 

Alan K. Chen, Thompson G. Marsh Law Alumni Professor, Sturm College of Law

Liz Sperber, Assistant Professor of Political Science, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences  

D-L Stewart, Professor of Higher Education and Chair of the Higher Education Department, Morgridge College of Education 

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

Transition to breakout spaces

10:15 – 11:00 a.m.

Breakout Sessions: Identifying Actionable Steps  

Led by panelists, engage in small group discussion to identify tangible and actionable steps that the DU Community can take to enhance the role of higher education in our democracy.

11:00  – 11:15 a.m. Transition back to Community Commons 1700

11:15– 11:55 a.m.


Taking Action: Facilitated Conversation of the Whole 

Facilitated by Professor Renée Botta, Faculty Senate President, this session will synthesize action steps identified in breakout sessions. 

Renée Botta, Associate Professor of Global Health and Development Communication and President, Faculty Senate 

11:55 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks: Charting

Our Course Forward           

We’ll summarize key takeaways and outline the collective path forward.