Monday, August 15, 2011

Free Speech and Academic Engagement

Dan RichardDan Richard

Office of Faculty Enhancement

One of the most positive aspects of the academic life is academic freedom. Faculty at colleges and universities are afforded a considerable amount of freedom in the syllabi they construct, the topics they address in the classroom, and the things they say in professional and public arenas.

A recent court case involving a faculty member at Northern Illinois University questions the boundaries of that freedom. A recent article in the Chronicle summarizes the case and the response from the university administrators.

I would like your comments about this case. Have you ever felt concerned for your job because of the things you have said in public? Should there be limits to faculty speech when those faculty are serving in a professional capacity?

1 comment:

Dan Richard, Ph.D. said...

Strange - another case related to free speech was published recently.

Should we conclude that negative speech toward upper administration might not be free speech, but negative comments toward someone's department Chair is free speech. The case in the article posted in this comment suggests that the decision was based partially on the fact that the speech was not written with malice, as the department already had a poor opinion of the Chair.

Department Chairs beware.