Academic Freedom’s Duties: A Review of Stanley Fish’s Save the World on Your Own Time
11 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 28, 2010
Stanley Fish’s Save the World On Your Own Time is a “medley of disparate essays” collected into a book whose theme is to exhort each liberal arts professor to “just do your job” in terms of the mission of the college or university and the professor’s specific teaching duties to serve the mission. The collected essays sometimes struggle with the linear flow of the analysis, repetition, and tangents, but the book’s overall emphasis on the professorate’s academic duties is much needed.
Whether the reader agrees or disagrees with some of Fish’s analysis (and I disagree with a number of points, as indicated below), the book forces thought, and I hope debate, on the mission of colleges and universities, the academic profession’s role in serving the mission, and each professor’s specific rights and duties. Self-assessment and reflection about failures of duty and their impact on the public trust are particularly timely given the steady erosion of the academic profession’s control over and autonomy in academic work in recent decades, particularly in institutions other than the research universities and elite liberal arts colleges.
Keywords: higher education, academic freedom, academic profession
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