Dispatches on academic freedom
Should there be a separate conception of academic freedom for precarious and independent scholars?
Because we most often invoke it when it’s threatened, we tend to focus more on the rights associated with academic freedom than on the reason we have it to begin with.
For reasons of naiveté or worse, the media and the public have been taken in by the view that there is a free speech crisis on campus.
Understanding what academic freedom is ideally meant to do can help us understand its contours, and how to best defend it.
If engaging with the public is indeed part of the job of the professor, then universities ought to protect professors who take up the task.
A better understanding of the mission of universities, and of the role that academic freedom plays within that mission, puts us in a better position to support university scholars and the work that they do.