By Joanna Williams
Universities, as soon as on the vanguard of campaigns for highbrow liberty, are actually bastions of conformity. This provocative booklet lines the death of educational freedom in the context of adjusting rules in regards to the goal of the collage and the character of information and is a passionate name to fingers for the ability of educational inspiration today.
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Extra info for Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge
Fundamental to this concept of academic freedom was the recognition that working in academia was unlike other forms of employment in private business, and that scholars served a social role in relation to knowledge which lent them a duty to ‘impart the results of their own and of their fellow-specialists’ investigations and reﬂection, both to students and to the general public’. In order for them to carry out this role they needed to work ‘without fear or favor’ so that: 28 Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity in the interest of society at large, that what purport to be the conclusions of men trained for, and dedicated to, the quest for truth, shall in fact be the conclusions of such men, and not echoes of the opinions of the lay public, or of the individuals who endow or manage universities.
A native German, employed because few British-born scholars could teach German to a sufﬁciently high standard, Wichmann took British citizenship shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. When war broke out, national sentiment turned against German residents in Britain, ‘motivated by the more speciﬁc fear that they might be German spies’ (Husbands, 2007, p. 494). Growing local controversy surrounded Wichmann, who ‘was considered a security threat and obliged by the War Ofﬁce to live and remain at least ten miles from Birmingham’, thereby making it impossible for him to teach at the university.
This 1940 Statement would, in a very short time, become a supporting document for institutions seeking legal means of dismissing or denying tenure. The 1915 AAUP Declaration of Principles of Academic Freedom was driven by the need to protect individuals from censure by institutional trustees. In contrast, the 1940 Statement was a response to perceived threats to the institution of higher education as a result of a more polarized and extreme political climate in the run-up to the Second World War.