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Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or or Essential Liberty? Essential Liberty? Higher Education Academy Research Seminar/Webinar Series: HEA, York, 12.

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Presentation on theme: "Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or or Essential Liberty? Essential Liberty? Higher Education Academy Research Seminar/Webinar Series: HEA, York, 12."— Presentation transcript:

1 Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or or Essential Liberty? Essential Liberty? Higher Education Academy Research Seminar/Webinar Series: HEA, York, 12 th February, © Terence Karran University of Lincoln

2  THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM  VON HUMBOLDT: The modern research university  THE NEED FOR A WORKING DEFINITION  THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE PROTECTION  WHY IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM IMPORTANT: to staff, students, universities and the world at large? Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or Essential Liberty?

3 Historical Roots Universities grew up as guild institutions during the middle ages, owing many of their traditions to monastic life. University of Bologna: First University in Europe. Autonomy was vested in the student universitas, professors were hired by the students, who also elected the Rector. In the examination of candidates for degrees, the Professors’ authority was paramount, in all other areas the students reigned supreme.

4 Historical Roots From the earliest times, universities were subject to external control by the monarchy, the city states and the Church. In 1217 the students of Bologna University held the city of Bologna to ransom by withdrawing from the city for three years, until such time as their various demands for greater control over the studium and the life of the town itself were met.

5 Historical Roots At the University of Paris, founded at about the same time, the emphasis was on freedom to teach, and applied to the Professors. In 1229, the Great Dispersion of staff and students from Paris to Angers, Orleans and Oxford, led to scholarly liberty being acknowledged as a university right. In 1231, Pope Gregory IX’s famous bull, the magna carta of the University of Paris, Parens Scientiarum lead to scholarly liberty being acknowledged as a university right.

6 Historical Roots The Church, the monarch and latterly the nation state, provided academic freedom so that knowledge could flourish, by the process of critical debate, and because when they imposed restrictions on academics, the academics responded by moving away. From Paris to Oxford, Oxford to Cambridge, Cambridge to the USA. The relationship between the emerging universities and the Catholic Church was particularly difficult.

7 Libertas Philosphandi The philosopher Giordano Bruno, who developed Copernicanism into a theory of infinite worlds, had spoken of the ideal of ‘philosophic freedom’ (philosophica libertas) when he came to take his leave of Wittenberg University in 1588; in his letter to the Rector of Paris University in the same year, he depicted himself as the sort of person to whom “there might be granted philosophic licence (liceat philosophice) to judge freely in philosophy (in philosophia libere opinari) and to publish his own opinion”.

8 Bruno’s Trial and Death Bruno refused to believe that Communion bread was literally transformed into the body of Christ, or recant the findings of his philosophical writings and was convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church. He was burnt at the stake on 15 th February In 1999 John Paul II requested forgiveness for the actions of the Catholic church where “basic human rights were violated” – this did not extend to Bruno, as his inquisitor, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, had been canonised in1930.

9  THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM  VON HUMBOLDT: The modern research university  THE NEED FOR A WORKING DEFINITION  THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE PROTECTION  WHY IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM IMPORTANT: to staff, students, universities and the world at large? Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or Essential Liberty?

10 Wilhelm Von Humboldt Wilhelm von Humboldt was appointed to the Prussian civil service in 1802, with the job of reforming the educational system in the wake of Prussia’s defeat by Napoleon. Humboldt founded Berlin University on new principles which focused on the unity of both teaching and research, and the idea that students and staff were partners in a joint enterprise to create knowledge. There were four principles in the Humboldtian university.

11 Wilhelm Von Humboldt Lehrfreiheit: Professors were free to do research and report their findings in lectures or publications. This freedom was not universal but the prerogative of the academic profession, and the essential condition of all universities. Academic freedom was not just the right of professors to speak without fear or favor, but the atmosphere of consent surrounding the whole process of research and instruction. Professors were salaried civil servants, who discharged their duties outside the chain of command that encompassed other government officials. They could determine the content of their lectures and publish their research findings without either seeking prior approval or criticism by the state or the church

12 Wilhelm Von Humboldt Lernfreiheit: ‘learning freedom’ for students who had control of their choice of courses of study save that which they needed to prepare them for state professional examinations or to qualify them for an academic teaching license. Students were free to find their own lodgings and diversions, liberated from course grades and classroom roll calls, free to move from place to place sampling academic wares, as mature and self-reliant scholars.

13 Wilhelm Von Humboldt Freiheit der Wissenschaft: the right of academic self-governance and institutional autonomy. Universities could make their own decisions on internal matters under the direction of the senior faculty. This right was deemed necessary to protect the freedoms of teaching and research, as without such protection, the university, it was thought, would be dangerously vulnerable to government or religious censorship. Without broad institutional powers, the academy, it was feared, would be at the mercy of the state or church. Hence institutional autonomy was indispensable to academic freedom

14 Wilhelm Von Humboldt Einheit von Lehre und Forschung: unity of teaching and research, and the collaborative pursuit of these by staff and students. Von Humboldt thought that the university’s task was the ‘cultivation of science and scholarship in the deepest and broadest sense,’ in which ‘Collaboration operates through a process in which the successful intellectual achievements of one person arouse the intellectual passions and enthusiasms of others.’ Hence ‘the goals of science and scholarship are worked towards most effectively through the synthesis of the teacher's and the students' dispositions’ University teaching aided both lecturer and student as true knowledge emerged in the ‘interplay between experience and enthusiasm’

15 Wilhelm Von Humboldt The Humboldtian university model, with its emphasis on academic freedom, was taken up by most state university systems in Europe and the United States – in 1876, the Johns Hopkins University was founded as the first American institution offering graduate education on the German model. Of the fifty-three Hopkins faculty members when the university was first established, nearly all had studied at German universities. They adopted the German method of instruction, relying on lectures, seminars, and laboratories. Johns Hopkins became the model for the modern American research university.

16  THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM  VON HUMBOLDT: The modern research university  THE NEED FOR A WORKING DEFINITION  THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE PROTECTION  WHY IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM IMPORTANT: to staff, students, universities and the world at large? Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or Essential Liberty?

17 What is Academic Freedom? Academic freedom is often mentioned in supra-national agreements and the constitutions of nation states. Council of Europe (2006) Recommendation on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy: “Higher education institutions should enjoy full academic autonomy and freedom” EU (2000) Charter on Fundamental Rights: “The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic freedom shall be respected”

18 What is Academic Freedom? Spanish Constitution 1978 Article 20 ‘The following rights are recognized and protected: a) To express and disseminate thoughts freely through words, writing, or any other means of reproduction; b) Literary, artistic, scientific, and technical production, and creation; c) Academic freedom.’ Greek Constitution: Article 16: ‘Art and science, research, and teaching are free... Academic freedom and the freedom to teach do not override the duty to obey the Constitution.’

19 What is Academic Freedom? However, although such documents suggest that academic freedom is important, and needs protection – they do not specify what the concept of academic freedom actually encompasses. Surprisingly, academics have been unable (or unwilling!) to define a concept which is supposedly of singular importance to their teaching and research, but they may have a vested interest in resisting definitional clarity.

20 Problems of Definition Tierney: ‘academic freedom, like democracy, is ageless; it transcends time and is passed down from one generation to the next.’ Horwitz: ‘academic freedom is not a stable or uniform concept. It is a constantly shifting and deeply contested idea, grounded on very different views of what universities are meant to achieve and how they should operate’ Fuchs: ‘academic freedom rests on a variety of cultural and institutional factors; (and) changes from time to time and from place to place’

21 Problems of Definition Schmitt: ‘politicians have become very wary of being labelled enemies of freedom for attacking academics... The confusions surrounding the concept of academic freedom... have been extremely helpful in this campaign’ Rabban: ‘several professors of medicine asserted that universities had violated their academic freedom by limiting their clinical income to 100,000 dollars’

22 Problems of Definition Academic freedom is a “freedom”, that is a liberty marked by the absence of restraints or threats against its exercise, rather than a “right”, that is an enforceable claim upon the assets of others. Consequently, academic freedom is most often defined by a violation or an abridgment of a particular right. In other words, academic freedom is often defined by its denial.

23 Problems of Definition American Association of University Professors: ‘Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.’ ‘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.’

24 Problems of Definition ‘Academic freedom is not the freedom to speak or teach just as one wishes. It is the freedom to pursue the scholarly profession, inside and outside the classroom, according to the norms and standards of that profession.’ Finkin, M., and Post, R., (2009) For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom, New Have: Yale University Press, p.149

25 Problems of Definition Two other elements: ‘the two principal institutional bulwarks for academic freedom’ Tenure: security of employment after a successful probationary period. Self Governance: the ability to appoint staff to managerial positions via democratic selection, and to affect institutional policy.

26  THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM  VON HUMBOLDT: The modern research university  THE NEED FOR A WORKING DEFINITION  THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE PROTECTION  WHY IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM IMPORTANT: to staff, students, universities and the world at large? Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or Essential Liberty?

27 Academic Freedom in the EU In November 1997, 182 member nations of UNESCO (including the 27 EU member states) signed the UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Higher Education Personnel which stated that: ‘the right to education, teaching and research can only be fully enjoyed in an atmosphere of academic freedom... the open communication of findings, hypotheses and opinions lies at the very heart of higher education and provides the strongest guarantee of the accuracy and objectivity of scholarship and research.’ Claire Short, Minister in the Blair government, signed for the UK

28 Academic Freedom in the EU The Recommendation provides detailed protection for academic freedom in four critical areas. Institutional Autonomy - ‘self-governance necessary for effective decision making by institutions of higher education’ Individual freedoms - ‘freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research’ Self governance - ‘the right to elect a majority of representatives to academic bodies’ Tenure - ‘Tenure should be safeguarded as far as possible’

29 Academic Freedom in the EU To test compliance with the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation, information was gathered from the 27 EU member states on, institutional autonomy, academic freedom, institutional governance, and academic tenure. Problems with the data, and also with the UNESCO definition, meant that assessing compliance was problematic. Consequently on the basis of the relevant legislation, each nation was adjudged to be in compliance, qualified compliance, or non- compliance with the UNESCO Recommendation.

30

31 AustriaComplianceLatviaCompliance BelgiumComplianceLithuaniaCompliance BulgariaComplianceLuxembourgCompliance Cyprus Non Compliance MaltaCompliance Czech Republic ComplianceNetherlandsCompliance Denmark Non Compliance PolandCompliance EstoniaCompliancePortugalCompliance FinlandComplianceRomaniaCompliance FranceComplianceSlovakiaCompliance GermanyComplianceSloveniaCompliance GreeceComplianceSpainCompliance HungaryComplianceSwedenCompliance IrelandComplianceU.K.Compliance ItalyCompliance Are the universities autonomous?

32 AustriaComplianceLatviaCompliance Belgium Qualified Compliance LithuaniaCompliance BulgariaComplianceLuxembourg Cyprus Malta Non Compliance Czech Republic ComplianceNetherlands Qualified Compliance Denmark PolandCompliance Estonia Portugal FinlandComplianceRomania FranceComplianceSlovakiaCompliance Germany SloveniaCompliance GreeceComplianceSpainCompliance HungaryComplianceSweden IrelandComplianceU.K. Non Compliance ItalyCompliance Is academic freedom protected in law?

33 Do academic staff have self governance? Austria Qualified Compliance LatviaCompliance Belgium LithuaniaCompliance BulgariaComplianceLuxembourg Cyprus Non Compliance Malta Qualified Compliance Czech Republic ComplianceNetherlands Non Compliance Denmark PolandCompliance EstoniaCompliancePortugalCompliance FinlandComplianceRomaniaCompliance France SlovakiaCompliance Germany Qualified Compliance SloveniaCompliance GreeceComplianceSpainCompliance HungaryComplianceSweden Non Compliance Ireland Qualified Compliance U.K. Non Compliance ItalyCompliance

34 Does academic tenure exist? Austria Qualified Compliance Latvia BelgiumComplianceLithuania BulgariaComplianceLuxembourg CyprusComplianceMalta Non Compliance Czech Republic ComplianceNetherlands Qualified Compliance Denmark PolandCompliance Estonia PortugalCompliance FinlandComplianceRomaniaCompliance France Slovakia Germany SloveniaCompliance GreeceComplianceSpainCompliance HungaryComplianceSwedenCompliance IrelandComplianceU.K. Non Compliance Italy Qualified Compliance

35 Nation Legal Autonomy Academic freedom protected in law Academic staff have self governance Academic tenure exists BulgariaComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance Czech Republic ComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance FinlandComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance HungaryComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance PolandComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance SloveniaComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance SpainComplianceComplianceComplianceCompliance GreeceCompliance Qualified Compliance ComplianceCompliance IrelandComplianceCompliance Compliance ItalyComplianceComplianceCompliance LatviaComplianceComplianceCompliance LithuaniaComplianceComplianceCompliance PortugalCompliance ComplianceCompliance RomaniaCompliance ComplianceCompliance Summary Table: High Compliance

36 Nation Legal Autonomy Academic freedom protected in law Academic staff have self governance Academic tenure exists Slovakia ComplianceComplianceCompliance Qualified Compliance Austria ComplianceCompliance Belgium Compliance Compliance Estonia Compliance Compliance Germany Compliance Luxembourg Compliance France ComplianceCompliance Non Compliance Qualified Compliance Sweden Compliance Non Compliance Compliance Netherlands Compliance Qualified Compliance Non Compliance Qualified Compliance Cyprus Non Compliance Qualified Compliance Non Compliance Compliance Malta Compliance Qualified Compliance Non Compliance Denmark Qualified Compliance Non Compliance Qualified Compliance U.K. Compliance Non Compliance Summary Table: Low Compliance

37 Academic Freedom in the EU The summary table shows that only about one third of EU states are fully compliant with all aspects of the UNESCO Recommendation, but that in the majority of states there is either complete or qualified compliance with the majority of the elements of the UNESCO Recommendation. This minority of fully compliant states includes those which have been under totalitarian control recently (e.g. Hungary, Poland, etc.) These nations have recently re-written their constitutions and their higher education legislation, hence their experiences of undemocratic rule may have led them to better appreciate the benefits of academic freedom.

38  THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM  VON HUMBOLDT: The modern research university  THE NEED FOR A WORKING DEFINITION  THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE PROTECTION  WHY IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM IMPORTANT: to staff, students, universities and the world at large? Academic Freedom: Extravagant Luxury or Essential Liberty?

39 Why is academic freedom important? To Academics: “The essentiality of freedom in the community of American universities is almost self- evident. … Scholarship cannot flourish in an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.” U.S. Supreme Court. Without the benefit of academic freedom in the conduct of research, major scientific discoveries, which have irrevocably altered society, would not have been made – Russell’s Principia Mathematica, the Discovery of DNA, the World Wide Web.

40 Why is academic freedom important? The location of new knowledge, by definition, is unknown. Hence to try to “manage” the process of the discovery of such knowledge is as easy as trying to manage the weather – which similarly is unknown and unpredictable. We may be able to forecast the weather – but we can not control it. Within an economy based on knowledge, universities have a unique and important role – but to maximise the possibility of new knowledge emerging, to serve the knowledge economy, requires more, not less, academic freedom. Moreover trying to manage the process of knowledge discovery merely slows it down, rather than speeding it up.

41 Why is academic freedom important? To Students: ‘universities began as voluntary and spontaneous assemblages or concourses for students to speak and to write and to learn.... The quality and creative power of student intellectual life to this day remain a vital measure of a school’s influence and attainment. For the University, by regulation, to cast disapproval on particular viewpoints of its students risks the suppression of free speech and creative inquiry in one of the vital centers for the nation’s intellectual life, its college and university campuses’ US Supreme Court.

42 Why is academic freedom important? To Universities: ‘This spirit of academic freedom within the university has a value which goes beyond protecting the individual's broad scope of thought and inquiry.... If a university is alive and productive, it is a place where colleagues are in constant dispute; defending their latest intellectual enthusiasm, attacking the contrary views of others.... It is vital that this contest be uninhibited by fear of reprisal.’ Kingman Brewster, President of Yale for over a decade (and later Master of University College, Oxford)

43 Why is academic freedom important? TEACHING Top THE 200 Others n=38%n=63% Full AAUP Compliance Qualified Compliance Non Compliance χ2 = 6.23, 2 degrees of freedom,Significant at 5% level

44 Why is academic freedom important? Element of Academic Freedom χ2 Value Level of Significance Teaching6.235% Research6.345% Extra Mural Utterance % Tenure11.861% Governance6.135%

45 Why is academic freedom important? To Society: Academic freedom is considered vital to the proper functioning of a University and, is recognised by international bodies like UNESCO as a barometer of other fundamental human rights, such as freedom of speech. In the past struggles for freedom of speech, university academics were often prominent, not least because their specialist knowledge enabled them to mount valid attacks on dictatorial governments, monarchies and the church. In addition to being important to universities and their academics, academic freedom is an indicative facet of freedom within the larger society, such that malaise in academe is related to, and symptomatic of, that in the body politic as a whole.

46 Academic Freedom: Future Problems 1.Employment Rights: tenure has been abolished, and short term contracts are on the rise. 2.Governance:greater managerialism is undermining academic governance 2.Governance: greater managerialism is undermining academic governance 3.Need for Research Impact: leads to short term projects, concentration of research income, and undermines the value of teaching. 4.Student “Customers”: altering students’ and parents’ perceptions and expectations of h.e. 5.Rationale for h.e.: emphasis on economic value of h.e. for both students and society, negation of the personal, intellectual and cultural values of h.e.

47 Academic Freedom: Some Solutions? 1.UCU: the Union must see its role in broader terms than just protection of academics’ employment rights, and try to raise the profile of academic freedom. Our protection for academic freedom should be at least as good as in the other EU states. 2.Universities UK:similarly, need to see their role as being a part of the university sector, not apart from it, and support not only the notion but also the practice of academic freedom on campus. 2.Universities UK: similarly, need to see their role as being a part of the university sector, not apart from it, and support not only the notion but also the practice of academic freedom on campus. 3.Individual academics: need to understand the benefits of, and limits to, academic freedom, and demand that their professional association actively protects this right.

48 IS ACADEMIC FREEDOM REALLY IMPORTANT? YES!

49 Thank you for listening! If you would like a copy of this presentation, or copies of the articles on academic freedom, then please contact me by

50 Publications Karran, T., (2007) “Academic Freedom in Europe: A Preliminary Comparative Analysis”, Higher Education Policy, 34(2): Karran, T., (2009) “Academic Freedom: In Justification of a Universal Ideal”, Studies in Higher Education, 34(3): Karran, T., (2009) “Academic Freedom in Europe: Reviewing UNESCO’s Recommendation”, British Journal of Educational Studies, 57(2): Karran, T., (2009) “Academic Freedom in Europe: Time for a Magna Charta?”, Higher Education Policy, 22(2): Karran, T., Beckton, J., (2013) “Protecting Academic Freedom in the USA: E Pluribus Unum?”, under peer review. Karran, T., (2013) “Academic Freedom in Latin America: Assessing the Legacy of the Córdoba Manifesto” forthcoming.


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