Defining Academic Freedom
December 21, 2010
By Cary Nelson
… This statement is designed to help clarify both what academic freedom does and doesn’t do.
PART 1: What it does do
1. Academic freedom means that both faculty members and students can engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation.
2. Academic freedom establishes a faculty member’s right to remain true to his or her pedagogical philosophy and intellectual commitments. It preserves the intellectual integrity of our educational system and thus serves the public good.
PART 2: What It Doesn’t Do
3. Neither academic freedom nor tenure protects an incompetent teacher from losing his or her job. Academic freedom thus does not grant an unqualified guarantee of lifetime employment.