Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1993

Abstract

Academic freedom in this country has been so closely identified with faculty autonomy that the two terms are often used interchangeably, especially by faculty members who are resisting restraints on their freedom to do as they please. While there may be some dispute as to whether or how far academic freedom protects the autonomy of universities or of students, the autonomy of faculty members seems to lie close to the core of the traditional American conception of academic freedom. As elaborated by the American Association of University Professors, this conception of academic freedom calls for protecting individual faculty members from lay interference, especially from the university trustees and administrators on whom they depend for their livelihood, so that faculty may perform their social function of generating and disseminating new knowledge "without fear or favor."' Otherwise, according to this view, the public could not be certain that the opinions presented by faculty were the candid views of academic experts, undistorted by the less informed views of their lay benefactors. I have previously argued that faculty autonomy fails to protect the academic values underlying this traditional conception of academic freedom when faculty members need to find external sponsors for their work.2 Faculty who are eager for funding may face powerful incentives to accommodate the interests of sponsors who seek to control the agenda of academic research and the dissemination of its results. In this context deference to faculty autonomy in the name of academic freedom could tie the, hands of universities and prevent them from responding effectively to certain contemporary threats to academic values.


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