The Freedoms that Make Up Academic Freedom

As hinted here, promised here, and launched here, Daily Academic Freedom has begun the work of comparing what UNESCO, AAUPAUCC, and CAUT, and the University of Waterloo each have to say about various aspects of academic freedom. Yesterday, we summarized their respective characterizations of the source and purpose of academic freedom. Today, we’ll move on to which individual rights and freedoms each body recognizes as falling under the broader umbrella of academic freedom.

UNESCO

What UNESCO says:

VI. Rights and freedoms of higher-education teaching personnel 


A. Individual rights and freedoms: civil rights, academic freedom, publication rights, and the international exchange of information

25. Access to the higher education academic profession should be based solely on appropriate academic qualifications, competence and experience and be equal for all members of society without any discrimination.

26. Higher-education teaching personnel, like all other groups and individuals, should enjoy those internationally recognized civil, political, social and cultural rights applicable to all citizens. Therefore, all higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly and association as well as the right to liberty and security of the person and liberty of movement. They should not be hindered or impeded in exercising their civil rights as citizens, including the right to contribute to social change through freely expressing their opinion of state policies and of policies affecting higher education. They should not suffer any penalties simply because of the exercise of such rights. Higher-education teaching personnel should not be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention, nor to torture, nor to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In cases of gross violation of their rights, higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to appeal to the relevant national, regional or international bodies such as the agencies of the United Nations, and organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel should extend full support in such cases.

27. The maintaining of the above international standards should be upheld in the interest of higher education internationally and within the country. To do so, the principle of academic freedom should be scrupulously observed. Higher-education teaching personnel are entitled to the maintaining of academic freedom, that is to say, the right, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies. All higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to fulfil their functions without discrimination of any kind and without fear of repression by the state or any other source. Higher-education teaching personnel can effectively do justice to this principle if the environment in which they operate is conducive, which requires a democratic atmosphere; hence the challenge for all of developing a democratic society.

28. Higher-education teaching personnel have the right to teach without any interference, subject to accepted professional principles including professional responsibility and intellectual rigour with regard to standards and methods of teaching. Higher-education teaching personnel should not be forced to instruct against their own best knowledge and conscience or be forced to use curricula and methods contrary to national and international human rights standards. Higher education teaching personnel should play a significant role in determining the curriculum.

29. Higher-education teaching personnel have a right to carry out research work without any interference, or any suppression, in accordance with their professional responsibility and subject to nationally and internationally recognized professional principles of intellectual rigour, scientific inquiry and research ethics. They should also have the right to publish and communicate the conclusions of the research of which they are authors or co-authors, as stated in paragraph 12 of this Recommendation.

30. Higher-education teaching personnel have a right to undertake professional activities outside of their employment, particularly those that enhance their professional skills or allow for the application of knowledge to the problems of the community, provided such activities do not interfere with their primary commitments to their home institutions in accordance with institutional policies and regulations or national laws and practice where they exist.

B. Self-governance and collegiality

31. Higher-education teaching personnel should have the right and opportunity, without discrimination of any kind, according to their abilities, to take part in the governing bodies and to criticize the functioning of higher education institutions, including their own, while respecting the right of other sections of the academic community to participate, and they should also have the right to elect a majority of representatives to academic bodies within the higher education institution.

32. The principles of collegiality include academic freedom, shared responsibility, the policy of participation of all concerned in internal decision making structures and practices, and the development of consultative mechanisms. Collegial decision-making should encompass decisions regarding the administration and determination of policies of higher education, curricula, research, extension work, the allocation of resources and other related activities, in order to improve academic excellence and quality for the benefit of society at large.

In short, UNESCO says that higher ed instructors have the following rights and freedoms:

  • the same civil, political, social and cultural rights applicable to all citizens;
  • the right, without constriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies. All higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to fulfil their functions without discrimination of any kind and without fear of repression by the state or any other source;
  • the right to teach without any interference, subject to accepted professional principles including professional responsibility and intellectual rigour with regard to standards and methods of teaching;
  • the right not be forced to instruct against their own best knowledge and conscience or be forced to use curricula and methods contrary to national and international human rights standards;
  • the right to have a significant role in determining the curriculum;
  • the right to carry out research work without any interference, or any suppression, in accordance with their professional responsibility and subject to nationally and internationally recognized professional principles of intellectual rigour, scientific inquiry and research ethics. They should also have the right to publish and communicate the conclusions of the research of which they are authors or co-authors;
  • the right to undertake professional activities outside of their employment, particularly those that enhance their professional skills or allow for the application of knowledge to the problems of the community, provided such activities do not interfere with their primary commitments to their home institutions in accordance with institutional policies and regulations or national laws and practice where they exist;
  • the right and opportunity, without discrimination of any kind, according to their abilities, to take part in the governing bodies and to criticize the functioning of higher education institutions, including their own, while respecting the right of other sections of the academic community to participate;
  • the right to elect a majority of representatives to academic bodies within the higher education institution.

Notice that UNESCO mostly talks about rights here. In fact, the only place they talk about freedoms is in the very specific context of academic freedom, which numbers among the various rights held by higher ed instructors. UNESCO lists the following as the specific rights and freedoms that make up academic freedom itself:

  • freedom of teaching and discussion
  • freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof
  • freedom to express freely one’s opinion about the institution or system in which one works
  • freedom from institutional censorship
  • freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies

For UNESCO, these five freedoms together constitute academic freedom.

AAUP

What AUPP says:

1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

2. 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. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.

3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.

Strikingly, AAUP intermingles with its list of freedoms various responsibilities. Here’s the boiled down list of freedoms:

  • full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties
  • 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
  • When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline

We’ll focus on responsibilities Monday. For now, stripping that responsibility language out of these three freedoms gives us the following list of AAUP academic freedoms:

  • to research and publish the results
  • freedom in the classroom in discussing one’s subject
  • freedom from institutional censorship in one’s communications as a citizen

AUCC

AUCC is pithier than UNESCO or AAUP. Here are the freedoms it lists as making up academic freedom:

  • to teach and conduct research in an academic environment
  • to freely communicate knowledge and the results of research and scholarship

It is worth noting here — and we’ll revisit this on Monday — that the AUCC statement is striking in the degree to which it emphasizes limits and responsibilities rather than freedoms in its characterization of academic freedom.

CAUT

As one would expect from a union of faculty unions, CAUT emphasizes freedoms over responsibilities in its characterization of academic freedom. So, in Canada, AUCC’s and CAUT’s academic freedom statements are, in a sense, at two ends of a continuum.

Here’s what CAUT says about the freedoms that make up academic freedom:

2. Academic freedom includes the right, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom to teach and discuss; freedom to carry out research and disseminate and publish the results thereof; freedom to produce and perform creative works; freedom to engage in service to the institution and the community; freedom to express one’s opinion about the institution, its administration, and the system in which one works; freedom to acquire, preserve, and provide access to documentary material in all formats; and freedom to participate in professional and representative academic bodies.  Academic freedom always entails freedom from institutional censorship.

3. […] All academic staff must have the right to fulfil their functions without reprisal or repression by the institution, the state, or any other source. […]

4. All academic staff have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly, and association and the right to liberty and security of the person and freedom of movement. Academic staff must not be hindered or impeded in exercising their civil rights as individuals including the right to contribute to social change through free expression of opinion on matters of public interest. Academic staff must not suffer any institutional penalties because of the exercise of such rights.

Let’s boil that down:

  • to teach and discuss
  • to carry out research and disseminate and publish the results thereof
  • to produce and perform creative works
  • to engage in service to the institution and the community
  • to express one’s opinion about the institution, its administration, and the system in which one works
  • to acquire, preserve, and provide access to documentary material in all formats
  • to participate in professional and representative academic bodies
  • from institutional censorship
  • to fulfil the functions of academic staff without reprisal or repression by the institution, the state, or any other source
  • to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly, and association and the right to liberty and security of the person and freedom of movement
  • to contribute to social change through free expression of opinion on matters of public interest

Whoa. That’s a lot of freedoms.

Waterloo

Policy 33 (Ethical Conduct) says:

In the context of this policy, ‘academic freedom’ refers to academic activities, including teaching and scholarship, as is articulated in the principles set out in the Memorandum of Agreement between the FAUW and the University of Waterloo, 1998 (Article 6). The academic environment which fosters free debate may from time to time include the presentation or discussion of unpopular opinions or controversial material.

So, what does the MOA have to add?

6.1 Academic freedom provides the possibility of examining, questioning, teaching, and learning, and involves the right to investigate, speculate, and comment without deference to prescribed doctrine. As such, it entails the freedom of individuals to practise their professions of teacher, researcher and scholar, the freedom to publish their findings, the freedom to teach and engage in open discussion, the freedom to be creative, the freedom to select, acquire, disseminate, and use documents in the exercise of their professional activities, and the freedom to criticize the University and the Association. Academic freedom also entails freedom from institutional censorship.

[…]

6.5 As the censorship of information is inimical to the free pursuit of learning, the creation, collection, organization, and dissemination of knowledge shall be done freely and without bias in support of the research, teaching, and study needs of the university community. No censorship shall be exercised or allowed against any material relevant to the pursuit of learning which a faculty member desires to be placed in the library collections of the University.

Finally, Policy 71 (Student Discipline) says that “academic freedom provides for the freedom to study, learn, publish and debate, independent of current opinion, subject to commonly accepted scholarly standards.”

In sum, then, these three University of Waterloo statements characterize academic freedom as consisting of the following freedoms:

  • to examine, question, teach, and learn
  • to investigate, speculate, and comment without deference to prescribed doctrine
  • to practise the professions of teacher, researcher and scholar
  • to publish findings
  • to teach and engage in open discussion
  • to be creative
  • to select, acquire, disseminate, and use documents in the exercise of professional activities
  • to criticize the University and the Association
  • from institutional censorship.

 

Wow! Just look how our chart has grown!

  UNESCO AAUP AUCC CAUT Waterloo
Purpose

of AF

The right to education, teaching and research; service to society, science, culture, and humanity.

 

The advancement of truth in service of the common good. Important demo-cratic social purposes; pursuit of truth. Knowledge & indepen-dent thinking in service of the common good of democratic society. University education; the pursuit of knowl-edge for the common good of society.
Freedoms Teaching and discussion;

carrying out and disseminating research;

expressing freely one’s opinion about the institution or system;

freedom from institutional censorship;

freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies.

 

To research and publish the results, in the classroom in discussing one’s subject, from institutional censorship in one’s communications as a citizen. To teach and conduct research; to freely communi-cate knowledge and the results of research and scholar-ship.

 

To teach and discuss; to carry out and disseminate research; to produce and perform creative works; to engage in service to the institution and the community; to express one’s opinion about the institution, its administration, and the system in which one works; to acquire, preserve, and provide access to documentary material; to participate in professional and representative academic bodies; from institutional censorship; to fulfil the functions of academic staff without reprisal or repression by the institution, the state, or any other source; to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, assembly, and association and the right to liberty and security of the person and freedom of movement; to contribute to social change through free expression of opinion on matters of public interest.

 

To examine, question, teach, learn, investigate, speculate, openly discuss and comment; to practise the professions of teacher, researcher and scholar; to publish findings; to be creative; to select, acquire, disseminate, and use documents in the exercise of professional activities; to criticize the University and the Association; from institutional censorship.

 

Responsi-bilities          
Individual autonomy          
Institu-tional autonomy          
Who has academic freedom?          

Ok. That was a lot of work (for me to curate and for you to read). Let’s take the weekend off. We’ll be back Monday with a comparison of what each of these five organizations have to say about the limits and responsibilities associated with academic freedom. See you then!