Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

Defending a Debased Version of the Liberal Arts

Peter Wood

The AAUP and AAC&U issue statement in support of a hollowed liberal arts.

Freedom to Learn: A Toolkit on the Higher Education Act

NAS

A citizen's toolkit on the Higher Education Act reauthorization and reform.

Letter to AAUP President: Let's Work Together to Address Confucius Institutes

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood writes to AAUP President Rudy Fichtenbaum about the concerns we share regarding Confucius Institutes.

Does Trump Threaten Science?

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood critiques a polemic by the American Association of University Professors.

The Map of Academic Freedom

NAS Director of Communications David Randall writes about the Academic Freedom Chart.

Finding Academic Freedom

Peter Wood

A new chart by NAS that traces the changing meaning of academic freedom.

AAUP Meeting Unanimously Backs Melissa Click--But Why?

Peter Wood

In Minding the Campus, NAS president Peter Wood discusses authority on campus.

Books With Spines: Bad Teachers

NAS

NAS inaugurates its Books With Spines series. Join us in selecting good books about bad teachers!

Title IX Tramples Free Speech and Fairness, So Now What?

Peter Wood

NAS president Peter Wood comments on the AAUP statement: The History, Uses, and Abuses of Title IX.

Dialogue on "Architecture": John K. Wilson and David Randall

NAS

John K. Wilson and David Randall discuss NAS President Peter Wood's "The Architecture of Academic Freedom"

Two Controversial Professors

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reflects on the contrasting perspectives at the AAUP and Heartland Institute conferences in Washington, DC last week.

Can Civility and Academic Freedom Coexist?

Ashley Thorne

Civility calls for restraint, and academic freedom, apparently, for lack of restraint. Colleges and universities strive for academic freedom and civil discourse; can they have both at the same time?

What Has Happened to the AAUP?

Peter Wood

The AAUP scores higher on politicization than academic freedom at its recent conference.

NAS President to Debate at AAUP Conference

Tessa Carter

Peter Wood will debate issues concerning higher ed at AAUP's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., this Friday.

Merchant Marine Prof Punished for Flippant Remark

Ashley Thorne

His remark about the Aurora shootings was thoughtless but not worth dismissal.

One Year Later: OCR Stonewalls Objections to New Harassment Guidelines

Glenn Ricketts

Despite strong protests from NAS, FIRE and the AAUP,  OCR says nothing about its new harassment requirements

Conditions on Campus for Conservatives

George Leef

A conservative professor writes that things aren't really so bad; I take issue with him.

Science, Faith, and Academic Freedom: Erskine College Swats a Gadfly

Peter Wood

A professor's dismissal raises questions about whether religious colleges can protect both academic freedom and a creedal mission.

Higher Sex Ed

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood examines the bewildering state of sexuality on many contemporary college campuses.

AJC Retracts Joint AJC-AAUP Statement

Mitchell Langbert

Today, The Jewish Daily Forward published Kenneth L. Marcus's op-ed about a joint statement, which was written by Kenneth Stern, the American Jewish Committee's president, and Cary Nelson, the American Association of University Professors' president. As I describe on my blog, Marcus congratulates the AJC for retracting the statement. But the AAUP has not retracted it. The AAUP-AJC statement concerns three law suits alleging antisemitic and violent harassment at Berkeley, Rutgers and UC Santa Cruz. In it, Stern and Nelson claim that the suits are an attempt to silence criticism of Israel. But the suits allege physical violence against Jews in contexts that do not involve any sort of academic or public debate. For instance, Berkeley's Jessica Felber alleges that she was rammed by a shopping cart; Professor Mel Gordon alleges that he was beaten. In his op-ed Marcus writes approvingly of the AJC's apparent retraction of the joint statement. But the AAUP has not retracted it. Might I detect a whiff of antisemitism at the AAUP?

Feds Gut Due Process in "Sexual Harassment" Cases

Jonathan Bean

The Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education has retreated from its firm stance in favor of due process and put forth a new standard for enforcing campus sexual harassment codes based on "the preponderance of evidence" (rather than "clear and convincing" evidence). 

Kudos to the AAUP

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood applauds some recent policy statements by the AAUP.

AAUP Publishes Official Policy on Campus Controversies

Ashley Thorne

The final version of the association's statement skews the principle of academic freedom and fails to implement good faith recommendations.

What is Advocacy?

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood discusses classroom advocacy and academic freedom.

Protest Envy

Peter Wood

Peter Wood explains why a planned day of protest by academic unions faltered.

Politicizing the Classroom, Part 2

Peter Wood

Peter Wood completes his two-part critique of the new statement from the American Association of University Professors on political controversy in academe.

Politicizing the Classroom, Part 1

Peter Wood

Peter Wood examines the AAUP’s new report on political controversy in the academy.

A Closer Look at the AAUP's New Statement on Controversial Professors

Ashley Thorne

Inside Higher Ed interviewed NAS president Peter Wood on his thoughts on the AAUP's statement, released today, on academic freedom for professors who take sides in controversies. While NAS agrees with the AAUP on some parts of the statement, and on the importance of protecting academic freedom, we disagree on some fundamental levels. Wood said that the AAUP appears to be "trying to create a firewall around faculty" so that "no one other than faculty has a legitimate place at the table," when the conduct of a faculty member is being discussed.

Is College the Only Pathway to Prosperity?

Ashley Thorne

A new report advocates embracing career training as a viable alternative to college. The AAUP, on the other hand, asserts that college is the best option we can give the next generation.

Academic Freedom? We're All Conservatives

Glenn Ricketts

Stanley Fish seems to be seeking the middle ground on revisions to Penn State's policy authorized by the faculty Senate, and now awaiting approval by PSU's president. Particularly unfortunate was the removal of a provision stipulating that academic freedom did not grant professors license to indoctrinate their students or to use their classrooms as bully pulpit for flogging their favorite political or social issues.  NAS is dismayed.

Reforming Our Universities

Peter Wood

A review of David Horowitz's new book Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign for an Academic Bill of Rights.

What Makes Academic Freedom Tick: A Reply to John K. Wilson

Steve Balch

Steve Balch replies to a critique of his recent article (with Ashley Thorne) on academic freedom and the controversy at Penn State.

Penn State and Academic Freedom

Ashley Thorne

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. NAS doesn't. 

Free to Indoctrinate: The AAUP Applauds Penn State's Retreat from Academic Freedom

Ashley Thorne

Penn State is revising its statement on academic freedom to permit faculty members the right to bring one-sided opinions on controversial topics to class. The radicalized AAUP thinks this is a good idea. We don't.

Holocaust Denial, Truth, and Academic Freedom

Ashley Thorne

Cary Nelson writes that "Holocaust denial is speech promoting falsity as truth." Oh, so truth is part of academic freedom, after all, Prof. Nelson?

HuffPo Article on Academic Freedom According to 1915 AAUP

Ashley Thorne

David Moshman, professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has an excellent article at the Huffington Post on what academic freedom means, according to the AAUP's 1915 Declaration of Principles. NAS has written frequently on this elusive meaning, and we agree with the 1915 Declaration. As one of the foremost defenders of intellectual liberty and sound practice in higher education, this is a theme close to our hearts. Moshman rebuts the common notion that academic freedom is a privilege strictly for tenured professors. Instead, he writes, the 1915 Declaration indicates that academic freedom:

(1) is intended to serve the common good, (2) relates specifically to matters of intellectual freedom, (3) applies to all teachers regardless of tenure status, and (4) applies to students as well.

Well-put, Professor Moshman. He expands on these points in his article. NAS has outlined our position on academic freedom, in which we affirm that students are entitled to academic freedom (there's even a word for this in German, Lernfreiheit). And we recently argued that anyone (including college administrators) who is committed to the search for truth through rational inquiry and dispassionate and scrupulous use of evidence deserves the protection of academic freedom.

Back on Track: U Illinois Reinstates Catholic Prof

Ashley Thorne

The University of Illinois has restored Professor Kenneth Howell to his position after dismissing him for an email he sent discussing Catholic teaching on homosexuality and natural law.

The Illinois Railroad: Making Quick Work of a Catholic Prof

Peter Wood

U Illinois should restore Professor Howell to his classroom both for his own sake and for the quality of academic inquiry and classroom teaching throughout the university.

March Forth

Peter Wood

Today thousands of students at universities around the country and especially on California campuses are rallying to protest tuition hikes in public higher education. College costs have indeed become exorbitant, but is this the right way to confront the excess?

Blacklisting a Christian University

Ashley Thorne

The AAUP's Canadian counterpart, the CAUT, has declared that Trinity Western University's statement of faith deprives faculty members of academic freedom. We disagree.

Kaleidoscope or Rubik's Cube? The AAUP's Academic Freedom Scholarship

Ashley Thorne

NAS congratulates the AAUP on the launch of its new Journal of Academic Freedom.

Cary Nelson: Stealth Conservative?

Peter Wood

Three comments responding to his article "The AAUP: A View From the Top."

Signing on to FEAR

Peter Wood

NAS endorses the AAUP statement "Free Expression at Risk, at Yale and Elsewhere."

Derryberry Day at NAS

Peter Wood

We welcome our very own Jaques to the Forest of Arden.

Wednesday? Oui, Monsieur

Peter Wood

Vapor trails, lifeboats, higher ed on the brink, filtration at Virginia Tech, death to apostates, disappointment at Chapel Hill, and new Cognitive Science Network

Acknowledging the "Knowledge-Politics Problem"

Steve Balch

A response to a working paper by Neil Gross which asserts that professors do not try to force their views on students and which surveys faculty understanding of academic freedom.

Arrrrrggus

Peter Wood

Check the facts please, Professor Derryberry.

"Ask God What Your Grade Is"

Ashley Thorne

A professor at LA City College shouts down and attempts to expel a student for supporting Proposition 8.

Irresolute

Peter Wood

Peter Wood and Ashley Thorne ponder how NAS should ring in the new year.

Delaware's Amateur Hour or For Whom the Gong Tolls

Steve Balch

A message from NAS President Steve Balch to American faculty about the residence life debacle at the University of Delaware.

Freedom Bound: The AAUP Presidential Election

Peter Wood

After interviewing AAUP presidential candidates Cary Nelson and Tom Guild, Ashley Thorne and Peter Wood conclude that one creed can be used with two opposite meanings. That said, NAS hopes to see the AAUP return to its original definition of academic freedom.

A Response to the AAUP's Report, "Freedom in the Classroom"

The American Association of University Professors released its Report on 11 September 2007. In that document, the AAUP provides cover for teachers who introduce extraneous, often politically tendentious material into their classes. To rationalize such behavior, the AAUP argues that truth is whatever the members of an academic discipline say it is. In our response, the NAS executive director and president take issue with that and other AAUP contentions.