Academic Freedom

This paper examines the concept of academic freedom and its history and contrasts the ideal of academic freedom with the social, cultural, and economic constraints that are regularly placed upon the faculty.

This paper explains that academic freedom is the concept that faculty, and in some cases, students, should be able to study, write, and publish the truth as they see it, free of doctrinal interference from the administration, the church, the corporation, or the state. The author points out that the concept of academic freedom, which is more prevalent at Western colleges and universities, has its roots in the 17th century, the beginning of the modern era. The paper relates that the power of alumni to shift the direction of a university tends to be limited because most alumni do not have sufficient money to make much of a difference, but this cannot be said for corporations, such as drug companies, which often have almost inconceivably large amounts of money and clearly focused needs and desires.

Table of Contents
Beginnings of Academic Freedom
German Universities Create Modern Traditions of Academic Freedom
Academic Freedom in the Modern University
Corporate Pocketbooks and Academic Freedom
“The development of a more fully modern concept of academic freedom came about in the 17th century not because of the work or writings of academics themselves but rather through the work of scholars such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. Locke and Hobbes were not in fact particularly interested in the rights of university faculty per se; they were, however, interested in the rights of all members of a society to certain basic freedoms. Their arguments about liberty and individual rights helped to define the era of the rise of modern democracies, one element of which has been the university that is freed from the church.”