By Joanna Williams
Universities, as soon as on the vanguard of campaigns for highbrow liberty, are actually bastions of conformity. This provocative ebook strains the dying of educational freedom in the context of adjusting rules concerning the goal of the college and the character of information and is a passionate name to fingers for the facility of educational suggestion today.
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Extra info for Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge
3, in Papadimitriou, 2011). Socrates has been recorded as arguing for the freedom to keep challenging people in the agora, or marketplace, on the basis that only the gods are wise and humans can be wise only in recognizing their own ignorance (Annas, 2000, p. 59). Sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of Athens with his ideas, Socrates’ defence in relation to the charges levelled against him is often cited as the ﬁrst recorded statement of the need for freedom in teaching (Hofstadter, 1996, p.
Granting universities freedom from the church and state was considered necessary for scientiﬁc progress to be made. Freedom for institutions was not always matched by unrestricted liberty for individual scholars. Just as the run-up to the First World War made higher education more utilitarian in nature and scientiﬁc research more focused upon the militaristic demands of war, so it also led to more monitoring and restrictions upon academics. Karl Wichmann, Professor of German at the University of Birmingham, was one victim of such interference.
In the ﬁfties a goodly portion of the professors still held the views about freedom put forward by Bacon, Milton, Locke and Mill . . [A]nother portion were of the Left, and they had a personal interest in the protection afforded them by those views. When the former lost their conﬁdence, and the latter gained theirs, the strength of academic freedom declined dramatically. (p. 325) The capitulation to political demands heralded the start of an enduring change in the academic project. A commitment to particular values began to supersede rational inquiry as the goal of both teaching and research.