A Place from Where to Speak: The University and Academic Freedom

British Journal of Educational Studies 57 (2):146 - 163 (2009)
Abstract
The university is promoted as 'a place from where to speak'. Academic freedom is examined as a crucial value in an increasingly uncertain age which resonates with Barnett's concern to encourage students to overcome their 'fear of freedom'. My concern is that the putative university space of freedom and autonomy may well become constricted by those who would limit not just our freedom to speak but also our freedoms to be and to do. Without academic freedom students and teachers, who might be able to fly, will not be permitted to fly. I review issues of academic freedom and free speech raised especially by Berlin, Voltaire, von Humboldt, Mill, Milton and Rorty. I discuss problems raised when free speech is heard by others as harmful and offensive to their beliefs and values. I offer a set of suggestions to ensure that the university may envision itself as a space of freedom, pluralism and tolerance. Finally, I reflect that the university, of all democratic institutions, should be the one which best serves its society as 'a place from where to speak'.
Keywords academic freedom  democracy  tolerance  pluralism  free speech
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References found in this work BETA
Ronald Barnett (2000). Realizing the University in an Age of Supercomplexity. Society for Research Into Higher Education & Open University Press.
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