Academic Freedom: A Guide to the Literature

Academic Freedom: A Guide to the Literature

Academic Freedom: A Guide to the Literature

Academic Freedom: A Guide to the Literature

Synopsis

Provides annotated entries for nearly 500 books, articles, chapters, web sites, and other sources related to academic freedom.

Excerpt

The freedom of academics to pursue knowledge and truth in their research, writing, and teaching is a fundamental principle of contemporary higher education in the United States. However, this freedom has been hard won and regularly abridged, reinterpreted, and violated. Academic freedom is not a static right, but an everchanging relationship between faculty and their disciplines, students, university administrations, communities, and governmental bodies. Its development reflects the changing influences and interests of these elements.

The contemporary model of academic freedom is of fairly recent vintage. Early American colleges and universities were primarily training grounds for clerics, and faculty were the means by which various religious beliefs were transmitted. They were not free to teach what they liked or to challenge the predominant orthodoxies of their institutions. It was not until the onset of industrialization that the role of the university, and therefore its academics, began to change to a new model. Universities and their faculty were required to train the intellectuals and skilled employees of a burgeoning economy. With this new role came a growing freedom and responsibility to push back the boundaries of knowledge and to transmit this to students.

Despite this new role and a corresponding increase in support for academic freedom, violations of that freedom were common. The turn-of-the-century academic freedom cases of Edward Bemis, Edward Ross, Richard Ely, and Scott Nearing illustrate how vested political and economic interests, either in the community or on Boards of Trustees, exerted undue influence in firing faculty and limiting academic freedom. However, the founding of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in 1915 established an organization devoted to the increasing professionalization of faculty, the establishment of professional standards, and an active defense of academic autonomy. Academic freedom was one of the Association's earliest preoccupations, as reflected in the establishment of its Committee A on academic freedom. That committee, through its investigation and . . .

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