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Campus teach-in on free speech scheduled February 13

ISSUED: 4 February 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The January 7 shooting at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 staff members is the basis for the next Shepherd University Department of Political Science teach-in scheduled for Friday, February 13 from noon-1 p.m. at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies Auditorium.

The attack was carried out by two French Muslim brothers in retaliation for the manner in which the magazine had depicted the prophet Muhammad. It also opened a worldwide debate over free speech rights.

“We see this topic as extremely complex and yet something being discussed widely in the media, so it is the perfect subject matter for a teach-in,” said Dr. Stephanie Slocum-Schaffer, associate professor and chair of the political science department. “We want to share our expertise on the subject so that people will be both well-informed and thoughtful about the issues surrounding free speech. Our goal is also to provide a forum where folks can get their questions answered and explore these issues.”

During the teach-in Dr. Max Guirguis, associate professor of political science, will make a presentation on the constitutional right of free speech; Dr. Jason McKahan, associate professor and chair of the mass communications department, will focus on Charlie Hebdo as a discursive site for religious and political conflict; and Dr. Aart Holtslag, assistant professor of political science, will discuss free speech in France within the context of human rights.  Slocum-Schaffer will serve as moderator.

Slocum-Schaffer said the presenters will briefly share their expertise. The remainder of the time will be dedicated to, and driven by, questions from the audience. The teach-in is free and open to students, faculty, staff, and community members. For more information, contact Slocum-Schaffer at 304-876-5347 or by email at

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