Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the by Joanna Williams

By Joanna Williams

Universities, as soon as on the vanguard of campaigns for highbrow liberty, are actually bastions of conformity. This provocative e-book lines the death of educational freedom in the context of adjusting rules in regards to the function of the college and the character of data and is a passionate name to palms for the ability of educational inspiration today.

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One legacy of these ancient origins is that academic freedom has been enshrined within Article 16 of the Greek constitution since 1975 (Papadimitriou, 2011, p. 105). More broadly, we see the emergence of two conflicting views of academic freedom that persist to this day: a declaration of general free speech rights on the one hand, and a privilege based on professional competence on the other. Centuries later, during the time of the Enlightenment, such ancient principles were revisited and the Socratic notion of intellectual liberty appeared at first to have won out.

Bloom describes the shift that took place, thus: . . in the fifties a goodly portion of the professors still held the views about freedom put forward by Bacon, Milton, Locke and Mill . . [A]nother portion were of the Left, and they had a personal interest in the protection afforded them by those views. When the former lost their confidence, and the latter gained theirs, the strength of academic freedom declined dramatically. (p. 325) The capitulation to political demands heralded the start of an enduring change in the academic project.

17). This allowed for only limited freedom: universities had a degree of institutional autonomy from the state as long as they did not challenge the authority of the ruling monarch. At the same time, universities were completely under the control of the church. In many ways, this meant the Catholic Church often served the role of censoring on behalf of the state. For example, it was the church that, in 1546, published the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of prohibited books. Significantly then, the freedom of universities from state interference did not imply a concomitant freedom for individual academics to criticize the church either as an institution or its teachings.

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