academic freedom

Dr. Welfare Queen, Ph.D.

Military disasters such as Pearl Harbor often warrant official investigations. But another one is sure to come. Decades from now, an official inquiry will look into how American universities collapsed into madness during the early twenty-first century. Unfortunately, when that day finally arrives, very few of us who survived that insanity will be around to […]

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Reality-Based Research on Racism Now Under Assault in Academia

Academic freedom is under assault. Faculty are being told that their research and courses must promote a particular ideology: that racial disparities are due to racism, rather than other causes, such as the voluntary choices made by individuals. The Supreme Court has said that racial disparities are not presumptively due to racism, because reality shows […]

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Open Access and Intellectual Freedom: Linked Meditations

Open Access The University of California signed an open-access agreement with the publisher Springer Nature this past week. That’s an improvement on the status quo—although it’s not yet clear how much of an upgrade it will prove to be. The new agreement responds to a dysfunctional status quo in the world of academic publishing. Academic […]

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The Assault on Free Thought

The academic left’s efforts to suppress opposing views is fierce, agile, and determined. It can summon an angry mob at a moment’s notice, get the undivided attention of a busy college president, or turn on the tears over the anguish a student feels when oppressed. Whether the goal is to bar a speaker, deface a […]

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Manchurian Candidate

The Looming Danger for Dissident Professors

Dissenting from the powerful progressive currents on our nation’s campuses can be very dangerous. Those who challenge the orthodox norms find little support among faculty, students, and administrators and can be severely punished socially and professionally. As I wrote here last week, students know that asking certain questions or holding particular public views can result […]

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The Bullying and Silencing of Students

Progressive colleges are often the worst offenders in all the ideological bullying that stains our colleges these days. Take my own institution, Sarah Lawrence.  During the 2016 election cycle, a week did not go by on my campus, without a student or a small group of students coming to me and sharing stories where they […]

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Why Not Create a Great Conservative University?

In my recent book, The University We Need, I wrote, “A moment’s reflection should confirm how strange it is that no leading university has been founded in the United States since Stanford in 1891.” The reason cannot be that no one has enough money to establish such a university because the United States has more […]

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Diversity Requirement at UCLA Threatens Academic Freedom

A recent article in Real Clear Investigations reported on a decision by the University of California, Los Angeles to require all professors applying for a tenure-track position — as well as any seeking promotion — to submit an “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” statement as part of their portfolio. Guidance from UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is […]

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Academic Activists Make a Published Paper Disappear

In the highly controversial area of human intelligence, the ‘Greater Male Variability Hypothesis’ (GMVH) asserts that there are more idiots and more geniuses among men than among women. Darwin’s research on evolution in the nineteenth century found that, although there are many exceptions for specific traits and species, there is generally more variability in males […]

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How ‘Social Justice’ Warriors Kill Free Thought

Sixty years ago, higher education had an open culture where students and professors could explore many different social and political perspectives, views, values, and theories. Together, they would consider different approaches, argue about them, and draw what conclusions they could. But for the last half-century, universities have transitioned from an open to a closed culture, […]

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How a Social Justice Mob Fired a Tenured Professor

The fall semester is off to a fiery start. We have Brown University’s decision to distance itself from Professor Lisa Littman’s research paper; the decision by the New York Journal of Mathematics journal to un-publish Professor Theodore Hill’s study; the University of Chicago’s refusal to defend Professor Rachel Fulton Brown from scurrilous attack led by […]

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Transgender symbol. Trans gender sign. Abstract night sky background

A Professor at Brown Uncovers a Transgender Inconvenient Truth

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition supporting a Brown University social scientist who is under fire from activists and her own university for research raising questions about whether social factors, rather than biological ones, could influence young adults’ transgender identities. Lisa Littman, an Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, in a peer-reviewed […]

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Did the Right ‘Weaponize’ Free Speech?

Joan Scott, professor emerita in the School of Social Science at Princeton, has been arguing that the great threat on academic freedom comes not from the smothering blanket of political correctness or the violence-laced actions of left-wing protesters, but from the anti-intellectual right. Scott’s interview in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “How the Right Weaponized […]

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Gender Tyranny at Swedish Universities

It started with an October 29 blog entry by Erik Ringmar, a 56-year-old political scientist at Lund University in Sweden. Ringmar had a problem. At Lund, he explained, it’s strongly recommended that 40% of the readings for every course be written by women. There’s a certain flexibility, but if your reading list contains no women […]

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Protecting Academic Freedom Through All the Campus Smoke

Once many years ago I spoke to an Army recruiter who tried to convince me that I would learn many valuable skills in the military, including how to jump from helicopters. I was puzzled. How exactly was learning to jump from a helicopter a valuable skill? He explained that I could then qualify for a […]

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Why I’m Leaving the Political Science Association

Looking forward to a lively annual conference of the American Political Science Association, due to start this week in San Francisco, I proposed a panel on “Viewpoint Diversity in Political Science.” After all, I thought, wasn’t the 2016 election a signal lesson in the continuing relevance of diverse viewpoints in the American body politic? My […]

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berkeley-free-speech-movement-1964

Some New and Narrow Versions of Academic Freedom

The right to breathe is not generally understood as the right to choke others.  The right to move freely is not widely understood as the right to slip into your neighbor’s house in the middle of the night unannounced.  The right to listen to Neil Diamond’s greatest hits is not universally interpreted as the right […]

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Do Corporate Donors Threaten Academic Freedom?

Inside Higher Ed has published another article, “Banking on the Curriculum,” denouncing the influence of corporate money in academia. The article raises the specter that America’s universities are accepting corporate gifts with ideological strings attached, thereby corrupting their intellectual integrity and selling the soul of academic freedom. The article examines the recent gifts of BB&T […]

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Book burning

The Slow Fade of Academic Freedom

The greatest threats to academic freedom come from academics themselves, not from their students or from politicians.  That provocative claim is the thesis of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge, an important new book by Joanna Williams slated for publication by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2016. Williams, who directs the […]

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‘Yes, the Kids Are Intolerant’

Excerpts from a blog on the new site, Heterodox Academy The overall levels of tolerance in society do fluctuate. People are more willing to restrict political rights to their foes during times of war or international threat. Yet, while the baseline for tolerance fluctuates over time, it has always been the case, until recently, that […]

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Emmer and Keeton–Two Terrible Decisions on Academic Freedom

It’s not often that a university’s personnel decision is so egregious that even the editorial pages of the local newspaper denounce it. That occurred with Hamline University, whose seemingly rescinded appointment to Tom Emmer generated a blistering editorial from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Between 2004 and 2010, Emmer served as a prominent member of the Republican […]

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Condemning the NYPD over Academic Freedom?

As Mark Bauerlein observed in his seminal essay on the topic, groupthink has the effect of producing more extreme versions of the common assumption. It stands to reason, therefore, that campuses with unusually one-sided faculties will feature more frequent episodes of extremist assertions. Such certainly seems to be the case at my own institution, Brooklyn […]

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Upholding Academic Freedom in Minnesota

A recently-decided case involving academic freedom all but defines a frivolous lawsuit. The website for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS), based at the University of Minnesota, contained an item noting “unreliable websites” on Holocaust issues. The link’s purpose–to discourage students from using these sites in their research–was clearly academic. (The site’s wording: […]

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Columbia’s Ongoing Battle against ROTC

At Columbia, how is it that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could inspire such heated debate among students? The average student opposing the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to Columbia University might be fairly described as a left-wing “radical,” while the university’s tiny conservative contingent is surely among the program’s supporters. […]

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A Feeble Statement from the AAUP

A few years ago, in the midst of the controversy over inappropriate faculty behavior in Columbia’s Middle East Studies department, more than 100 professors, led by former provost Jonathan Cole, signed a document demanding that the Columbia administration defend the faculty from outside criticism—without even determining the merits of that criticism. This approach essentially redefined […]

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Awards for Reporting about Anti-Semitism on Campus

At the Student Free Press Association, we’ve partnered with the Institute for Jewish & Community Research to establish $1000 awards for excellence in student reporting on anti-Semitism. To learn how to enter, go here. From the press release: Campuses have become staging grounds for campaigns demonizing Israel, intimidating Jewish students and threatening the foundation of […]

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Faculty Groupthink and Contempt for Israel

The hiring of former Brooklyn College adjunct Kristofer Petersen-Overton was quite extraordinary. Even though New York’s fiscal problems have led to a slashing of the adjunct budget for required, undergraduate Core classes, Brooklyn’s Political Science Department chose to assign an adjunct to teach a Masters’-level elective course, on Middle Eastern politics. And then, even though […]

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Thoughts on Penn State

By Mark Bauerlein As reported here, the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs at Penn State has revised the school’s academic freedom policy and submitted a new version to the president for approval. The proposed changes include, the Introduction says, “Converting the list of restrictions on academic freedom into affirmative principles.” To that end, the Committee […]

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Accept Our School’s Belief System, or You’re Gone

Jennifer Keeton, age 24, is a student in the graduate counselor education program at Augusta State University, Georgia. Faculty members at ASU have informed Ms. Keeton that she will be dismissed if she does not rid herself of beliefs that the school opposes. She holds traditional Christian views about sexuality and gender, and believes homosexuality […]

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The Wolfers and Bastardizing Academic Freedom

Academic freedom carries with it rights as well as responsibilities. The concept derives from the belief that academics, because of specialized training in their subject matter, have earned the right to teach their areas of expertise and to follow their research questions as the evidence dictates—free from political pressure from the government. Indeed, only through […]

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