Thoughts on Academic Freedom

Thoughts on Academic Freedom


It seems to me we need some clarification of the idea of academic freedom, so I am throwing out these thoughts, rather tentatively, to get the ball rolling. I welcome discussion on this, though keep in mind this is a blog post and not an academic paper. Links to helpful resources as well as discussions elsewhere are also welcome. Ok, so here goes:

Academic freedom protect academics on two fronts: in their capacity as academics and in their capacity as citizens. As academics, it protects them from some restrictions on and punishments for engaging in and discussing their work as academics, typically meaning their research and teaching. As citizens, it protects them, to some extent, from institutional sanction, for expressing their opinions, especially in regards to political questions (broadly construed).

Note that even within the domains of research and teaching, academic freedom does not grant academics the permission to research whatever and however they want, or teach whatever and however they want. If your appointment is in Classics, yet you spend all of your research efforts on Kim Kardashian, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction. If you are in psychology and attempt to run an experiment on human subjects without first getting the approval of an IRB, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction. If your position is in chemistry and your teaching consists solely in showing your students Scooby-Doo cartoons, ruh-roh, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction. If you are in philosophy and spray-paint the conclusion of your latest article on the wall of the library, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction. So, even within the limited domains of academic activity, it does not mean academics are free to do whatever they want.

Once outside these limited domains, academic freedom still does not mean being able to act however you please or say whatever you want without risk of institutional sanction. So, a university may permissibly have all sorts of rules and regulations and norms and expectations regarding how its members ought to treat one another. Some of these are analogous to time, place, and manner restrictions in U.S. First Amendment law. Some may be more substantive. If you attend faculty senate meetings and sing arias loudly throughout them, only stopping to fart in the general direction of the faculty president, academic freedom will not protect you. If you walk around the quad hissing “you’re a man-hating lesbian” at each student who walks by, academic freedom will not protect you. If you routinely yell at your colleagues during department meetings, shouting them down into submission, academic freedom will not protect you. If you send an email to your colleague’s students telling them that their professor is an idiot, academic freedom will not protect you.

More generally, while academic freedom has served in disputes to give a presumption of liberty to members of the academic community and place the burden of proof on the sanctioning institution, if your behavior can be shown to be at odds with the mission of the academic institution that employs you and the ways the institution goes about executing that mission, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction.

Please note that none of what I’ve said so far implies that being appropriately subject to sanction means that any sanction would be appropriate.

What does academic freedom protect you from? One thing it does is protect you from an overly narrow construal of the acceptable subjects you may work on, the approaches you may take, the positions you may consider and defend, the means by which it is appropriate for you communicate these things, the expression of political views (including views about institutional governance), etc., and that this has typically been understood to place a very high bar on sanctioning members of the academic community for the content of their views. This is rather vague, I know, and perhaps the devil is in the details. Help with the details would be appreciated.


For those curious, I repost from the AAUP website a section from the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, including the endnotes from that section (which are important):

Academic Freedom

  1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
  2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.4 Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.5
  3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.6

endnotes: 

4. Second 1970 comment: The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject.

5. Third 1970 comment: Most church-related institutions no longer need or desire the departure from the principle of academic freedom implied in the 1940 “Statement,” and we do not now endorse such a departure.

6. Fourth 1970 comment: This paragraph is the subject of an interpretation adopted by the sponsors of the 1940 “Statement” immediately following its endorsement:

If the administration of a college or university feels that a teacher has not observed the admonitions of paragraph 3 of the section on Academic Freedom and believes that the extramural utterances of the teacher have been such as to raise grave doubts concerning the teacher’s fitness for his or her position, it may proceed to file charges under paragraph 4 of the section on Academic Tenure. In pressing such charges, the administration should remember that teachers are citizens and should be accorded the freedom of citizens. In such cases the administration must assume full responsibility, and the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Colleges are free to make an investigation.

Paragraph 3 of the section on Academic Freedom in the 1940 “Statement” should also be interpreted in keeping with the 1964 “Committee A Statement on Extramural Utterances,” Policy Documents and Reports, 31, which states inter alia: “The controlling principle is that a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for his or her position. Extramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for the position. Moreover, a final decision should take into account the faculty member’s entire record as a teacher and scholar.”

Paragraph 5 of the “Statement on Professional Ethics,” Policy Documents and Reports, 146, also addresses the nature of the “special obligations” of the teacher: “As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.”

Both the protection of academic freedom and the requirements of academic responsibility apply not only to the full-time probationary and the tenured teacher, but also to all others, such as part- time faculty and teaching assistants, who exercise teaching responsibilities.

(art: detail from Flags by Jasper Johns)

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Will Behun
Will Behun
6 years ago

Perhaps a bit off topic, but I think it is something that bears mentioning, and which was certainly implied by Justin’s post; academic freedom is a freedom granted to teachers and scholars, not to students. (Naturally, graduate students acting as teachers and researchers partake of this freedom.) This seems to be something that has gotten blurred/erased/ignored in recent years, and may well be significant in the Marquette situation.Report

Grad Student
Grad Student
6 years ago

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by saying “academic freedom is a freedom granted to teachers and scholars, not to students.” The AAUP guidelines have no legal force: they just set out norms to which academics believe they should adhere, and their persuasive force derives from the principles behind them. Those principles apply, mutatis mutandis, to students much as they do to faculty. It’s true that the mutanda are significant for paragraph 2, since teachers and students have different roles in the classroom; but paragraphs 1 and 3 seem to apply quite analogously. It would surely be just as wrong for a university to discipline a student for writing an unpopular editorial as it would be for it to discipline a professor for doing so.Report

DC
DC
6 years ago

I have to respectfully dissent on two grounds:

1. “Clarification” suggests that there is a sort of objective, universally-accepted view of what academic freedom is; I think a lot of (most?) of the recent debate is based on differing views of academic freedom.

2. I actually think a lot of the debate pretty much zeroes in right on this difference of opinion, so not sure if clarification is really needed. For example, in regards to the McAdams issue, my opinion that Marquette’s actions violate academic freedom are not based on some misunderstanding; I come to those beliefs honestly and after a lot of thought. I don’t think anyone is arguing that academic freedom precludes a tenured professor from being fired for any reason whatsoever; I (and a fair number of other people, including the AUUP) have evaluated this instance and decided that we think the firing is wrong.Report

Ronnie Hawkins
Ronnie Hawkins
6 years ago

This may also seem a bit off topic, but I think it is right on target when one considers the spirit presumably at work when academic freedom was first instituted. What I have grown increasingly concerned about over the last decade-and-a-half or so is not so much administrative restrictions as restrictions of thought and expression that are self-imposed; self-censorship, in other words, although quite possibly the result of subtle and not-so-subtle social pressures from administrators and colleagues alike, to say nothing of granting agencies. I am troubled that, in many areas I am at least somewhat familiar with, certain topics seem to be avoided as areas for research or even discussion, even as the importance of expanding our investigation of these topics would seem increasingly manifest. The complex biological effects as well as the ethical dimensions surrounding our widespread use of the products of certain new technologies–the triad of bioengineering, nanotechnology, and robotics, for example, of which Bill Joy warned us in a famous Wired magazine article, to which one might add fracking, geoengineering, and creation of the next generation of military weaponry–tend to be rather studiously avoided as subjects of study or discussion, perhaps because to examine them too closely would be anxiety-producing for the sponsors of such technologies, and possibly also for society at large. No doubt there exist similarly urgent questions in areas with which I am not familiar that are also going unexamined at present. It seems to me that, to the extent that we are all participating, to some degree, in restricting the scope of what is taken to be acceptable for open investigation, we are all infringing upon one another’s academic freedom (as well as our own).Report

Roger Clarke
Roger Clarke
6 years ago

There might be multiple competing senses of academic freedom at play, and they might all need clarification. Clarification might even involve arguing for one’s conception of academic freedom, as I see it. Even if DC is right about what’s going on in discussion of the Marquette case, and even if DC doesn’t need clarification on (Justin’s) view of academic freedom, clarification might help move the Marquette discussion forward. DC, can you elaborate on your notion of academic freedom?Report

DC
DC
6 years ago

Well you can certainly argue for your position; I just don’t think framing it as a “clarification” (unless you specify you are clarifying your own beliefs) helps the discourse.

My notion of academic freedom is pretty much that people have an inherent right to say what they want to say; as a society we can sanction those people when the things they say are an immediate incitement to unlawful activity, or publicizing personal information that can harm another, but any such sanctions should be taken. If there is a close question whether speech should be sanctioned or not, then go with don’t sanction. Opinion should be absolutely protected.Report

DC
DC
6 years ago

I realized I kind of my second paragraph got a little too general; when I say society as a whole I mean to say my vision of academic freedom is one that should apply universally, and private universities who receive government funding (i.e., all of them) should be required to follow the same free speech requirements that governments should follow.Report

Jonathan Ichikawa
6 years ago

DC, am I right then in thinking you’re in disagreement with Justin’s claim that ‘[i]f you walk around the quad hissing “you’re a man-hating lesbian” at each student who walks by, academic freedom will not protect you’?Report

Brian Weatherson
6 years ago

“If your appointment is in Classics, yet you spend all of your research efforts on Kim Kardashian, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction.”

Could you say more about this case Justin? I’m not sure I disagree about this particular case (though I’m not sure I agree with it either), and I suspect there might be a general principle around here I disagree about. So perhaps I’m interested in two questions.

1. Change the hypothetical to philosophy. Does that change your verdict about whether academic freedom applies?
2. Is it something about Kim Kardashian that’s driving it? So change the example to, say, Beyoncé’s music. (And change the home department to philosophy.) Do you think academic freedom still doesn’t kick in?Report

DC
DC
6 years ago

No, academic freedom should not protect you in that case, but there the problem isn’t the content of the speech, but rather the going up to people and aggressively hissing at them. That is a physical action that is aggressive and intrusive.

Putting up on a blog “I think XX is a man-hating lesbian” should be protected, as obnoxious, wrong, and immoral as it is.

I think what we have to understand is that you can protect academics from public and private governing bodies but that doesn’t mean that immoral conduct goes unpunished; just that the punishment could come from the community in the form of criticism and ostracism, or if it truly is defamatory, civil law.Report

Jasper Heaton
Jasper Heaton
6 years ago

DC, I want to press you a bit more on this point. You’ve said that going up to people and hissing at them “you’re a man-hating lesbian” shouldn’t be protected by academic freedom; not because of the content of the speech, but because hissing is ‘a physical action that is aggressive and intrusive’.
So, I’m a little unsure what a *physical* action is, just as it seems to me that actions just are physical (well, really they’re temporal, but that’s a little beside the point). I agree with you that hissing is an aggressive and intrusive action, but I don’t see what you think precludes uttering the sentence ‘you’re a man-hating lesbian’ (perhaps even with some kind of hissing tone) from qualifying as a similarly aggressive and intrusive action. Saying sentences to people qualify as actions; and in this particular example, the act of uttering the sentence is (arguably at least) both aggressive and intrusive. It as aggressive because – at least in the set up of the hypothetical given – it is not uttered as let’s say a simple descriptive utterance such as ‘you’re a person from Wales’; it is intrusive because (again, given the setup of the situation in the hypothetical) the utterance marks an inappropriate accusation as to the person’s character.

A second point I’m also curious about, and which I think is right, but would like to see hear more about. You say that the punishment could come from the community; I’m curious why Marquette University itself shouldn’t count as part of the community here exacting punishment. Of course there’s some pretty big differences between Marquette University and what we might think of as normal members of a community (i.e. human (and perhaps non-human) persons), but institutions can be members of communities, can’t they?Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
6 years ago

Not as an analysis but as a suggested consequence of any analysis in a US context:

Academic freedom covers *at least* whatever is covered by the First Amendment. So any speech act which could not lawfully be a cause of sanction in a public university ought not to be a cause of sanction in a private university.

Academic freedom covers much that is not speech acts, but when restricted to speech acts it seems close to First Amendment-style speech protection.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
6 years ago

David Wallace,
We disagreed about this issue in the last thread, but I have to say that I think the following:
“Academic freedom covers *at least* whatever is covered by the First Amendment.”
is very, very wrong. It also seems to me importantly different from the next line:
“So any speech act which could not lawfully be a cause of sanction in a public university ought not to be a cause of sanction in a private university.”
Academic freedom amounts to a right not to have your employment terminated. To adopt your position would be to make it the case that university administrations could not fire anyone for the content of their speech, that all firings would have to be content neutral. But that cannot be right. The First Amendment allows me to say ‘Catholicism is a cult and its practitioners rapists,’ without fear of being arrested. But if you work at a Catholic institution, as I do, saying that in class would be appropriate grounds for dismissal. Even at non-religious schools there are kinds of speech that are protected from government intervention, but should clearly end up with your being fired. Racist speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment, but it ought to be a fire-able offense to say to your students that African-Americans are an inferior race. The First Amendment protects the rights of Nazis to hold marches. Surely if I started one in the quad it would be appropriate to relieve me of my duties. The state is allowed, in general, to fire people for saying things that it could not arrest people for saying. And that is a good thing. And so while I agree that private university faculty should enjoy the same academic freedom as do public university faculty, public university faculty do not and ought not enjoy academic freedom that extends as far as First Amendment rights.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

Patrick, I’m not sure how familiar you are with the first amendment rights of public employees, but it is not the case that racist speech is protected in the way you suggest. It is, of course, protected speech in general, but first amendment rights are handled differently in the public employment context. As I understand the law (and please, those with more knowledge than I have on this, correct me if I am wrong), since Pickering v. Board of Education in order to be able to claim one’s free speech rights have been violated, public employees need to first demonstrate that the speech in question regarded a matter of public concern, and then once that bar has been met, need to further demonstrate that their interest in expressing the speech outweighs the interest of their employer in maintaining efficient provision of services. Whether the speech interferes with one’s responsibilities, whether the ability of the public office’s ability to efficiently provide services, or whether the employees speech undermines public co-workers ability to work together can be weighed in the determination.

So, for example, in Weicherding v. Riegel, a federal appeals court determined that Illinois prison officials could fire a correctional officer for his membership in the Ku Klux Klan, even though the officer had met the first hurdle, because his association with the KKK undermined safety in the workplace.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
6 years ago

Kathryn Pogin,
Perhaps the mis-communication was a result of a mistake in my writing (mistakes often reside there) but we are in complete agreement. In the sentence to which you respond I was contrasting First Amendment rights for citizens in general with what ought to be protected by academic freedom, not the rights of public sector employees with the rights of private sector employees. I point out at the end of my comment that public employees can be fired for what is clearly within the realm of protected speech.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
6 years ago

Oh, no, the mistake may well have been mine. I interpreted your last sentence contrasting the protections offered by academic freedom and first amendment rights as indicating that that the first amendment does offer such broad protections while academic freedom does not, but I see now that you were contrasting first amendment rights in general with the limitations of those rights in specific contexts.Report

DC
DC
6 years ago

“DC, I want to press you a bit more on this point. You’ve said that going up to people and hissing at them “you’re a man-hating lesbian” shouldn’t be protected by academic freedom; not because of the content of the speech, but because hissing is ‘a physical action that is aggressive and intrusive’.”

I probably overemphasized the physicality; the repeated harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be of overwhelming physicality, but the closeness of the person, the in-person nature, the hissing, definitely is more likely to push it towards harassment as opposed to unprotected speech. It’s at the point where conduct stops really being about the content and becomes more about the factors other than the content.

The American Bar Assocation website has a good guide on when protected speech becomes unprotected harassment:

“In some ways, activist courts, agencies, and educational messages about civility and tolerance may have given a false impression that any sexist, ageist, racist, and so forth, remark is tantamount to harassment. As a society, we now use the term “harassment” to mean being bothered, generically. We must distinguish generic harassment from discriminatory harassment. The standard laid out in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education makes this clear: To be considered discriminatory harassment, the conduct in question must be “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.”
All too often, a school’s reaction focuses too heavily on the content of speech. However, content is, to risk oversimplification, somewhat irrelevant. It is the context that matters, and the context helps to make the determination about whether conduct is actionable under school policy or protected by the First Amendment. Severity, pervasiveness, and objective offense are all factors that must be evaluated outside the immediate emotional distress on the part of those subjected to a specific instance of questionable speech.”

http://www.americanbar.org/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/human_rights_vol38_2011/fall2011/the_intersection_of_free_speech_and_harassment_rules.html

“A second point I’m also curious about, and which I think is right, but would like to see hear more about. You say that the punishment could come from the community; I’m curious why Marquette University itself shouldn’t count as part of the community here exacting punishment. Of course there’s some pretty big differences between Marquette University and what we might think of as normal members of a community (i.e. human (and perhaps non-human) persons), but institutions can be members of communities, can’t they?”

I don’t really think they can, actually; there is a fundamental difference between a bureaucratically organized institution and an individual expressing his or her personal beliefs. Now legally, as a private university, Marquette has the ability to police itself so it gets a little murkier. Personally, I think for the same reason government actors are prohibited from punishing protected speech, private universities should as well (and legally this could be done through the same leverage mechanism Title IX uses, of federal funding), but this is not currently done.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
6 years ago

Mayer: This may be partly definitional. The First Amendment binds public universities, so insofar as a public university academic can be fired for a speech act, definitionally that speech act is not First-Amendment protected speech (in that context). My point is that if it *is* First-Amendment protected speech in that context, it ought also to be protected by academic freedom even in the private-sector context. (That being the case, I’ll stick by my claim that “So any speech act which could not lawfully be a cause of sanction in a public university ought not to be a cause of sanction in a private university” just follows logically from “Academic freedom covers *at least* whatever is covered by the First Amendment”, contra your claim that they are “importantly different”.)Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

I guess I have a hard time following this First Amendment/academic freedom discussion. What do you mean by “the first amendment binds public universities”? The first amendment protects speech from state regulation. The extent to which the state includes public universities is complicated, but it’s not 100%. So it seems as though, no, the first amendment does not bind public universities in the way you seem to think it does. Beyond that, the claim that academic freedom covers everything the first amendment does seems to be clearly false, and clearly false in a way that no one would dispute. I mean, there are clearly cases (Patrick gave several) where if you’re a professor you’d be protected in the USA from state regulation but would not be protected from public university regulation.

So I guess I’m having a hard time reading your claim as something that isn’t obviously false. Is there something else you mean by “academic freedom covers at least what is covered by the first amendment”?Report

J. Bogart
J. Bogart
6 years ago

The import of the 1st Amendment for employment decisions by state agencies is complex, and, for these purposes, can be thought of as limited, which I think is Mr. Drabek’s point. But state universities are state agencies and subject to 1st Amendment restraints just as other state agencies are.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

Right, state agencies are definitely subject to many first amendment restraints. But academic freedom and first amendment protection just don’t perfectly line up in the way I think David Wallace (and some others from this/previous threads) seem to be arguing, or assuming. I keep going back to the points made well by Patrick and Justin. They’ve both given clear examples of cases where a professor is protected from state regulation, but not from sanction by public universities.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
6 years ago

This is not a matter of definition, or at least not a matter of definition open to simple stipulation. The nature of First Amendment protections are determined by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has ruled on this. But suppose it was a simple matter of definition, so that we can relativize the meaning of ‘First Amendment freedoms’ to contexts in way that gives those freedoms different scope in employment law than elsewhere (as opposed to simply saying that the First Amendment does not guarantee a right to express what you want and stay employed by the federal government, just a right to express what you want without being arrested, fined, etc.). That seems to me to pretty clear make the claim that ‘public university employees have full First Amendment rights when it comes to whether and when they can be fired’ tautological, and so not very helpful for actually figuring out how far academic freedom extends.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
6 years ago

I’m making what I think is a pretty simple point, but obviously making it very unclearly. Let me have one more go:

If there is some sanction against an academic that, at a public university, is illegal on First Amendment grounds, then academic freedom should also prohibit that sanction at a private university.

Example: Salaita’s case against UI at Urbana-Champaign is based in part on a First Amendment argument, which is possible since UI at Urbana-Champaign is public. My suggestion is that academic freedom ought to be understood to license that same case even had Salaita been at a private university.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

OK, that’s a lot clearer. I think I see the point. It seems right. Less clear is how it would be applied to some familiar cases. Suppose, for example, that a professor at a private university were sanctioned for harassment because he called a student at home to hound her about her teaching. Seems to me that this would be sanctioned at a public university, without violation of either the first amendment or academic freedom, on the same grounds as the private university. Or to go to Justin’s case, a professor walks around a private university campus calling women “man hating lesbians.” Seems to me that this would also be sanctioned at a public university, without violation of either the first amendment or academic freedom, on the same grounds. Or Patrick’s case of a professor touting the superiority of the white race or hurling insults left and right at Catholic students. In all of these cases, the same result: the professor would be sanctioned by either the private or public university. Neither the first amendment nor academic freedom would prevent sanctioning by the employer.

Something else seems true, too: the state would not have grounds to punish the professor with criminal or civil sanctions.Report

Nicholas Denyer
Nicholas Denyer
6 years ago

People may be interested in how academic freedom is treated in the statutes of Trinity College. Cambridge:

“1. This Statute and any Ordinance made under this Statute shall be construed
in every case to give effect to the following guiding principles, that is to say:
(a) to ensure that members of the academic staff of the College have
freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to
put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without
placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges;”Report

Zara
Zara
6 years ago

“If your appointment is in Classics, yet you spend all of your research efforts on Kim Kardashian, academic freedom will not protect you from sanction.” Typically, tenure will protect you from sanction in such instances (of you’re tenured, that is). A tenured facutly member does not have to explain to anyone how her research is connected to their departmental discipline: she only need say, if anything at all, “that will be revealed as the research proceeds.” Arguably, the fullest form of academic freedom only comes with tenure: tenure gives one the freedom to pursue research that is potentially unproductive (like working on a longstanding open problem in math (like spending seven years on Fermat’s Last Theorem)), to pursue research with unclear connections to your home discipline, or (perhaps unfortunately) to pursue no research at all.Report

Sigrid
Sigrid
6 years ago

An interesting thing is happening in the Kansas legislature: attempting to prohibit academics from mentioning their professional affiliation and credentials when commenting in opinion pieces. (more fun than attempting to balance their budget, I suppose)
http://cjonline.com/news/2015-02-05/legislation-bans-professors-using-titles-newspaper-columnsReport

Amy Lara
Amy Lara
6 years ago

Right. We definitely don’t want to look to Kansas as a model for interpreting either free speech protections or academic freedom protections. Last year our Board of Regents adopted a policy (so, not a law, but an employment policy) making it a fireable offense for any professor, tenured or not, to use social media in a way that is deemed “contrary to the best interests” of the university. Who decides whether some form of speech is contrary to the best interests of the university? The president of the university. Also, that can be decided completely after the fact, so you never know in advance if something you say might be picked up by Fox news and cause a big stink that would be bad for the university. This is clearly a violation of academic freedom principles, and we made a big stink about it at multiple Regents meetings, but they just ignored us. We’re going to need a good test case before we get them to consider changing the policy.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

Justin, for your sake, I hope no one at SC decides someday that they don’t like your blog posts because of their tone or your criticisms of other philosophers. For indeed, you have been quite critical. The hand that feeds belongs to the mouth that bites.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/stripping-a-professor-of-tenure-over-a-blog-post/385280/Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
6 years ago

“The hand that feeds belongs to the mouth that bites.” And the leg bone is connected to the knee bone.

http://academeblog.org/2015/02/09/beware-of-the-pedagogy-police-cheryl-abbate-v-john-mcadams-at-marquette-graphic-e-mail-in-appendix/Report