Penn State and Academic Freedom

Ashley Thorne

  • Article
  • December 15, 2010

Penn State is revising its statement on academic freedom to permit faculty members the right to bring one-sided opinions on controversial topics (unrelated to the course) to class. The radicalized AAUP thinks this is a good idea. We don't. Here’s a statement by the NAS where we examine the meaning of true academic freedom and urge Penn State's president not to approve the revisions to the policy: “Free to Indoctrinate: The AAUP Applauds Penn State's Retreat from Academic Freedom.” We note that the AAUP, ironically, is rejecting its own founding document, the 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure, whence came much of the wording of the old Penn State policy. Academic freedom according to the 1915 Declaration is not an automatic right but a privilege earned by professors who act as much like scientists as possible in their teaching and research, using rigorous intellectual methods and arriving at their conclusions through logic and evidence. Without self-discipline and scientist-like conduct, professors cannot claim academic freedom.

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