First Amendment education is in abysmal shape – with little or no real formal instruction at the elementary-to-middle-to-high school levels. As a result, Americans arrive as adults, either post-education or in college, with sparse academic exploration or practical knowledge needed to apply their freedom of religion, press, speech, assembly and petition. We know from surveys that large numbers of citizens would surrender free speech rights to government officials, that there is widespread misunderstanding of the role and operations of a free press, and ignorance of the rights of assembly and petition. Intervention and education at the collegiate level is perhaps the best and last real opportunity to expose large numbers of Americans to the core principles behind the First Amendment's five freedoms The Liberty Tree Initiative commemorates the elm tree near Boston Commons where, in 1665, America’s earliest patriots first spoke of the need for a new nation founded on liberty. These programs will continue that tradition of constructive and collegial conversations about freedom in America. The program hopes to see a Liberty Tree, like the one in Boston, planted on participating campuses as a symbol of the importance of the First Amendment to an educated public.


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