Sunday, June 7, 2009

New work on academic freedom

Being in contact with Terence Karran from the University of Lincoln, a member of this blog's network, I find it highly relevant to tell about some of his recent work. He has been invited by Ingrid Stage, president of Dansk Magisterforening to appear as a guest speaker at the DM conference on university governance and freedom of research on 11th June, 2009, at DM’s premises Nimbusparken 16, Frederiksberg, in Copenhagen.

Karran's research work into academic freedom has continued and he has a paper in the June 2009 edition of the British Journal of Education Studies entitled, "Academic Freedom in Europe: Reviewing UNESCO’s Recommendation”. He wrote this paper to update and extend the analysis of his previous paper [“Academic Freedom in Europe: A Preliminary Comparative Analysis” published in the UNESCO/IUA journal Higher Education Policy in 2007] to include all the new EU states, and also to answer criticisms made by the Danish Education Minister, Helge Sander, that his previous paper did not relate directly to the parameters laid out in the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation. The June 2009 edition of the BJES focuses specifically on academic freedom, and to mark the publication of this special edition of the journal, the Society for Educational Studies hosted a special seminar on “Understanding Academic Freedom” at the Rothermere American Institute, at the University of Oxford on 20th May, at which the contributors to the special edition, addressed the question ‘How is academic freedom understood in the 21st Century?’ Karran shared the panel at Oxford with his fellow contributors, Roy Harris (Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics, University of Oxford), Steve Fuller (Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick) and Dennis Hayes (Visiting Professor, Oxford Brookes University). Interestingly , it seems that ensuring protection for academic freedom is as important a topic at Oxford as it is in Denmark!

In addition, Karran's articles entitled "Academic Freedom: In Justification of a Universal Ideal" and "Academic Freedom in Europe: Time for a Magna Charta?", has just been published in the May 2009 edition of Studies in Higher Education and the June 2009 edition of the journal Higher Education Policy, respectively. These articles follow on from the conclusion of his previous 2007 article on academic freedom in the journal Higher Education Policy, in which he stated: "Further work is therefore required ... first, a succinct yet inclusive and coherent working definition of academic freedom is needed for Universities in the EU nations, derived from, and built on, their historic commitment to this principle. Second, and more importantly, the reasons justifying academic freedom need to be voiced clearly and loudly." The working definition for academic freedom specified in the article in Higher Education Policy goes beyond traditional discussions of academic freedom by specifying not only the rights inherent in the concept but its necessary limitations and safeguards which could form the basis for a European Magna Charta Libertatis Academicae. Clearly, the adoption of such a document by the EUA and the national academic professional associations would do much to raise the salience and awareness of academic freedom within Europe's universities. The article in Studies in Higher Education examines the justification for, and benefits of, academic freedom to academics, students, universities, and the world at large, and provides a powerful, evidence based, justification for the preservation of the concept of academic freedom in the universities of Europe and world wide.

You can see these articles in their journal contexts here:

and I guess that if you don't have free access to these journals via your local library, Karran would kindly forward you pdf offprints.

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