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Academic Freedom Principles in Practice

Mosh photo 2014

This blog is written by David Moshman.

Critiques of censorship and indoctrination are unlikely to be taken seriously if they are not based on defensible principles of academic freedom. Correspondingly, principles of academic freedom are unlikely to have much impact if they are not convincingly applied to actual restrictions on intellectual freedom in academic institutions. We need good principles applied to real cases and issues.

In 2009, after years of formulation and reformulation based on consideration of hundreds of cases, I published a set of principles of academic freedom in my book Liberty and Learning: Academic Freedom for Teachers and Students. I was delighted when ReLeah Lent subsequently adapted these principles to create what became the NCTE Position Statement on Academic Freedom.

But principles are not enough. In my blog at Huffington Post I write regularly about current cases and issues concerning intellectual freedom in education and research. In a July 22 interview on Education Talk Radio, host Larry Jacobs and I spent 35 minutes discussing a variety of cases and issues, including matters of civility, offensive speech, offensive T-shirts, protest, free press, social media, bullying, harassment, speech codes, chilled speech, censorship, indoctrination, First Amendment law, American Indian Studies, Israel, Palestine, settler colonialism, sexuality education, evolution, creation, argumentation, and political polarization. You can take this list as a trigger warning if you like. If you’re up to it, check out the interview.

David Moshman blogs about intellectual freedom in education for the Huffington Post. A professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he has served as president of ACLU Nebraska and of the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska. He is the author of six books, including Liberty and Learning: Academic Freedom for Teachers and Students, which served as the basis for the NCTE Position Statement on Academic Freedom.