ERIC Number: EJ1070856
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Academic Freedom and the Liberation of the Nation's Faculty
Pak, Michael S.
Thought & Action, p83-93 Fall 2007
In this article, the author reports that within the few decades following the creation of the National Education Association (NEA), a new expression came into use in the English language: "academic freedom." It was in this period that the modern research university first made its appearance in the United States. Before the last third of the 19th century, the content of undergraduate curriculum was such that any well-educated amateur could easily set up shop as a college professor. The administration or the board felt it to be within its competence to dictate to the faculty what it could or could not teach or say. The new emphasis on university research, however, helped turn the situation around. Professors were now required to be specialists. As the guardians of esoteric knowledge, they could make a case that they should have to answer to no one other than their specialist colleagues as to what they could and could not say in their professional capacity. The emphasis on research, in effect, gave the faculty the leverage it needed to claim a considerable measure of autonomy for itself. Today there is a heading toward a period which calls for a new initiative. For better or for worse, the grounds are shifting. Challenges to academic freedom are coming from new sources. With the coming of the post-industrial era and an economy increasingly dependent on new knowledge, universities find themselves working closer than ever with various economic interests. As the founders of academic freedom understood, challenges are not necessarily obstacles. For those who are willing to rise up to them, challenges can become opportunities.
Descriptors: Academic Freedom, Research Universities, College Faculty, Teacher Researchers, Specialists, Professional Autonomy, Educational Change, Knowledge Economy, Professional Associations
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site: http://www.nea.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A