Charting Academic Freedom: 102 Years of Debate

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY (May 22, 2017) – The National Association of Scholars has released a chart that compares the ten most important statements on academic freedom in American history.  "Charting Academic Freedom: 102 Years of Debate" starts with the World War I era “Statement of Principles” from the newly founded American Association of University Professors, and extends to recent declarations by Middlebury College professors and two Princeton professors.

The chart makes clear at a glance that “academic freedom” has changed its meaning many times in the last 102 years. During World War I, professors were worried that college trustees posed a risk to their right to speak out on controversial issues.  They sought protection by claiming that their “scientific” pursuit of truth deserved a special status in society.  By contrast, 107 Middlebury College professors issued a statement in March, decrying the “incivility and coarseness” of their own students, who had violently suppressed a speech by a visiting scholar.  

“The NAS has published this chart to improve the quality of the national debate over academic freedom,” said Peter W. Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars.  “The American public is rightly concerned that the freedom to learn in American colleges and universities has been damaged.  Disinvitations to prominent speakers; riots at places such as Berkeley, Middlebury, and Claremont McKenna; and other efforts to intimidate both faculty members and fellow students have become all too common,” said Wood. “But efforts to repair the situation have been hampered by confusion over what ‘academic freedom’ really is.  Our chart is meant to give all sides of the debate a roadmap of the major policy statements.”

View a scrollable version of the report here.

View a printable version of the report here.


About the National Association of Scholars: The National Association of Scholars works to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America's colleges and universities. To learn more about NAS, visit www.nas.org.

Contact: David Randall / Director of Communications / [email protected] / (917) 551-6770


Image: Station Crisfield integral part of small, fishing community by Coast Guard News // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  • Share

Most Commented

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

April 19, 2021

2.

UT Austin Approves Orwellian “Strategic Plan for Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity”

Sadly, the University of Texas at Austin did not heed our repeated warnings about the direct threat to academic freedom and institutional neutrality posed by its now-appr......

June 10, 2021

3.

Tracking "Cancel Culture" in Higher Education

UPDATED: A repository of 176 administrators, professors, and students who have been "canceled" for expressing views deemed unacceptable by higher education ideologues....

Most Read

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

May 24, 2021

2.

The Jay Bergman Debacle: An Extended Study in Academic Cancel Culture

CCSU Professor of History and long-time NAS Board member Jay Bergman is under fire from colleagues, school superintendents, and the local media. His crime? Criticizing the 1619 Project....

May 18, 2021

3.

How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?

Updated 5/18/2021: We're keeping track of all Confucius Institutes in the United States, including those that remain open, those that closed, and those that have announced their clo......