The Responsibilities That Attach to Academic Freedom — Part 5 (Conclusion)

Finally! Today, we are in a position to finish our survey of the responsibilities that, according to various bodies, attach to academic freedom. So far (check out the last few posts), we’ve looked at UNESCO, AAUP, AUCC and CAUT. Today, we’ll finish by seeing what my own employer, University of Waterloo, says. Then, we’ll summarize it all by populating a new row on the table we’re slowly filling in.

As we’ve discussed before, Waterloo’s faculty association (FAUW) isn’t unionized, and so doesn’t negotiate a collective agreement. So, whereas most Canadian universities’ academic freedom statements occur in collective agreements, Waterloo’s occurs in three places – Policy 33 (Ethical Conduct), Policy 71 (Student Discipline), and in the Memorandum of Agreement between FAUW and University of Waterloo. Here’s what each of those documents have to say about the responsibilities associated with academic freedom:

Policy 33

Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base teaching and research on an honest and ethical quest for knowledge.

Policy 71

Academic freedom… carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a responsible and ethical way. A student’s academic freedom does not extend to disruption of other students, faculty or staff members, or their work/study/residence environments.

MOA

…those who are guaranteed academic freedom have also a responsibility in exercising it not to infringe upon the academic freedom and rights of other members of the university community. Indeed, academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner that is consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest and ethical quest for knowledge.

Boiling it down then, Waterloo associates academic freedom with the following responsibilities:

  • base teaching and research on an honest and ethical quest for knowledge;
  • use academic freedom in a responsible and ethical way;
  • avoid disrupting other university members or their environments, or infringing on their academic freedom.

*****

Now that we’ve whittled down what each of the bodies we’re surveying has to say, we’re (at last!) in a position to update our chart! Here we go:

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 Base research on an honest and search for truth guided by respect for evidence and high standards;

respect other scholars’ academic freedom;

follow ethical and professional standards;

serve society;

teach effectively, fairly and equitably;

maintain and disseminate scholarship, whether disciplinary or pedagogical;

follow the standards of research ethics;

acknowledge other scholars’ intellectual contributions;

professionally appraise academic colleagues and students fairly and impartially;

when expressing views extra-curricularly, avoid misleading the public on the nature of one’s professional expertise.

Adequate performance of their other academic duties;

accuracy;

appropriate restraint;

show respect for others’ opinions;

in extra-curricular communications, make clear that one does not represent the institution;

fulfill responsibilities to one’s subject, students, profession, and institution;

promote conditions of free inquiry and further public understanding of academic freedom.

 

Exercise a.f. in a reasonable and responsible manner;

institutional integrity and autonomy;

rigorous standards for enquiry: reasoned discourse, rigorous extensive research and scholarship, and peer review;

best available evidence;

professional standards of the relevant discipline;

respect for the rights and freedoms of others;

highest ethical standards in teaching and research;

responsibility to ensure that pressures from funding and other types of partnerships do not unduly influence the intellectual work of the university.

Academic staff must play a major role in the governance of the institution. Base teaching and research on an honest and ethical quest for knowledge; use academic freedom in a responsible and ethical way; avoid disrupting other university members or their environments, or infringing on their academic freedom.

 

Individual autonomy
Institu-tional autonomy
Who has academic freedom?

Hmm. Not quite sure why that table is vertical-justified. It doesn’t matter. It’s a work in progress and the key thing is the content.

Let’s push on ahead. Tomorrow, we’ll start on individual autonomy. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there!