Academic Freedom and the Inclusive University by Dennis Pavlich, Sharon E. Kahn

By Dennis Pavlich, Sharon E. Kahn

What's the function and nature of educational freedom? Is it a vital and imperative price or a foul proposal in line with doubtful rules that via omission are racist and sexist? The essays in Academic Freedom and the Inclusive University relate ancient and philosophical views on educational freedom to present social and political pursuits, making a huge contribution to 1 of the main major highbrow debates at present attractive the modern college.

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Recommendations for curriculum reviews to encompass diversity are labelled Orwellian and an interference with academic freedom. Policies of employment equity and guidelines against sexual and racial harassment are characterized as violating freedom of speech and academic freedom, and as undermining the merit principle in hiring. In the opinion of those belonging to the recently founded Academic Freedom in Social Context Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), these developments “have run rough-shod over principles of scholarly integrity and impartiality, freedom of expression and open debate, and basic fairness and democratic representation” (Brown, cited in Hodgkinson 1993: 27).

Even relative insiders seem upset. Page Smith contends that “the vast majority of the 32 Bernard Shapiro so-called research turned out in the modern university is essentially worthless,” and Thomas Sowell asserts that “educators ... have proclaimed their dedication to freedom of ideas ... ”1 I do not believe that our increasing inclusiveness, however incomplete, clumsily handled, and complex, is the problem. Criticisms are inevitable in an open society where universities have become a part of the establishment.

Involved are a variety of considerations, including the fundamental liberal assumption about the autonomy and importance of the individual and of finding new and better ways to respect differences and reject domination. We perhaps should be amazed that the idea of a university has survived at all. We must recall how historically atypical it is to have sustained over time a society with many institutions that oppose and/or provide a balance to the power of the state. The idea that the state could support institutions that prevent that state’s monopoly over power and truth is novel.

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