For more than a century academics have had unique rights — to speak, teach, and write freely. Central to the case for academic freedom is that scholars will have to have the ability to voice their views free of fear to ensure that society to gain a better understanding of ourselves and our world and to be effective teachers.
Academic freedom has at all times faced challenges. Professors have been pressed to alter their work because it offends powerful interests — both outside and inside the university. Some have been fired or denied jobs for their political beliefs, their criticisms of colleagues and administrators, and their refusal to buckle under corporate pressures to hush up research findings. The sixteen contributors to this volume cite many such instances in Canada and the U.S. More significantly, they point out how governments, corporations, and university administrators today are seeking for to narrow academic freedom. Among them:
- Major donors are acquiring keep an eye on over university teaching and even hiring decisions
- University administrators are firing professors with unpopular political beliefs, whilst pretending that the reasons for their decisions lie elsewhere
- Governments are the use of funding mechanisms to force-feed research in some areas, whilst shutting down inquiry in others
- Campus-wide policies enforcing civility rules are preventing criticism and debate within a university
- Judges are issuing decisions which reverse previous rulings supporting academic freedom in the U.S. and Canada
Together the contributors to this book examine attempts to restrict academic freedom and explore its legitimate limits.