Thursday, February 02, 2006

Academic Freedom, Against Itself

Michael Bérubé has a brilliant post/lecture transcript from a few days ago on academic freedom. Best paragraph:

Not all college professors are liberals, and attacks on academic freedom are dangerous partly because, in some instances, they can undermine the intellectual autonomy of conservative professors. And I don’t believe that this is the same old same old, either. What we’re seeing today is actually unprecedented, for two reasons. One is demographic: college professors have, in the aggregate, become more liberal over the past thirty-five years—though, as I’ll explain later on, most of the studies that have been done on this subject in the past three years are exercises in cooking the data. The other is strategic: for the first time in American history, there is an organized, national campaign to undermine academic freedom by appealing to the ideal of . . . academic freedom.

One of the key examples of this is actually a bill passed in Pennsylvania, though as I understand it, it doesn't apply to professors at private universities.


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