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Whither Academic Freedom

144 characters can ruin a lifetime of work. In September, The University of Kansas suspended a tenured journalism professor for a tweet. On Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents adopted a new rule that says that faculty members and other employees can be fired for "improper use of social media", including when the usage "is contrary to the best interest of the university." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Dec 20, 2013 - 79 comments

Apartheid's odd role in the vibrancy of the social and human sciences

JM Coetzee's foreword to John Higgins's new book Academic Freedom in a Democratic South Africa, which among other topics, includes an extended interview with Nelson Mandela ally and academic Jakes Gerwel on the importance of the humanities in both the anti-apartheid struggle. In an excerpt from the interview, Gerwel stated that Apartheid was to a large degree also “a battle of and over ideas, a battle of the priority of one set of ideas over another, and in this struggle the human and social sciences played a great and liberating role.” A (pdf) history of South African education under apartheid.
posted by spamandkimchi on Nov 5, 2013 - 9 comments

The politics of non-profit online college education.

Is the right declaring war on academia through a push for online degrees? Is it paranoid to think that the American right is trying to undermine academic freedom? Public universities are increasingly offering not just a few courses but whole degree programs online, above and beyond the MOOCs discussed previously and previously. Who teaches these online classes offered by public universities? Increasingly, it's adjuncts. One estimate is that 1/3 of online classes are taught by adjuncts. Adjuncts are low-paid, and, perhaps more importantly, they do not have the protection of tenure if they produce controversial innovative research.
posted by mareli on Feb 22, 2013 - 66 comments

FOIA request for WI Professor emails

A week ago, University of Wisconsin History Professor Bill Cronon wrote a blog post about the organization he claimed was driving much of the legislation in Wisconsin: ALEC. Shortly after that, he wrote an op ed for the New York Times about the legislation. Now, the Wisconsin GOP have sent a FOIA request to the University requesting all emails that Cronon may have sent containing the terms "Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union ..." and others. Cronon responds, calling it an "Attack [on] academic freedom". (via TPM)
posted by demiurge on Mar 25, 2011 - 119 comments

"I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.'"

As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
posted by EarBucket on Oct 19, 2006 - 47 comments

My analysis of this is somewhat tongue in cheek, please don't flame.

The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities. Now that this former rogue nation has fallen in line, we can turn out attention to the real terrorist threat: Britain.
posted by thirteenkiller on Sep 5, 2006 - 30 comments

And We're Confiscating Those Cartoons, Professor

Miguel Tinker Salas is the Arango Professor in Latin American History at Pomona College, a political historian and sometime commentator on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. On Tuesday, an FBI/LA County Sherrifs Office Joint Terrorism Task Force came calling during Tinker Salas's office hours. "After identifying themselves, they proceeded to ask about my relation to Venezuela, the government, the community, my scholarship, my politics...After they departed, the three or four students who were outside my office informed me that these individuals had asked them about my background, my classes, what I taught, my politics and they even wrote down the cartoons that are on my door."
posted by BT on Mar 9, 2006 - 47 comments

BLM Pulls Funding After Controversial Results Emerge

First it was announced that an Oregon State University graduate student was publishing a story in the journal Science. titled, "Post-Wildfire Logging Hinders Regeneration and Increases Fire Risk," which undercut Bush administration-backed arguments for post-wildfire logging. A week later it was made public that nine professors in the College of Forestry (which gets 10% of its funding from a logging tax) lobbied the journal not to publish the article. Among them was John Sessions, lead author of a report that pressed the U.S. Forest Service to expand salvage logging. After attention was brought to the professors' attempts to keep the article from being published, many worried about the university's reputation regarding academic freedom, if not the state of academic freedom throughout the academic world. However if it wasn't difficult enough to just worry about your own professors standing in the way of getting your data published, you also have to worry about the government pulling your funding if your data doesn't match the data they want to see.

"The Bureau of Land Management acknowledged Monday that it asked OSU if the three-year study led by graduate student Daniel Donato and published last month in the journal Science violated provisions of a $300,000 federal fire research grant that prohibits using any of the funds to lobby Congress and requires that a BLM scientist be consulted before the research is published."

"It's totally without precedent as far as I can recollect," said Jerry Franklin, a professor at the University of Washington who has studied Northwest forests for decades. "It says, 'If we don't like what you're saying, we'll cut off your money.' "
posted by pwb503 on Feb 7, 2006 - 51 comments

A college professor has been rebuked

A college professor has been rebuked for sending an abusive email to an Air Force cadet. Was the professor out of line for his rant, or is "academic freedom" under attack?
posted by Durwood on Nov 11, 2002 - 60 comments

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