Academic Freedom in New Haven and Singapore
Straits Times, 30 March 2012, page A23
1 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2012 Last revised: 30 Apr 2014
Date Written: March 30, 2012
Academic freedom entails certain rights — but it also comes with responsibilities and requires an understanding of context. The rights generally associated with academic freedom are that teaching and research should be conducted without unreasonable interference or restriction by the law, institutional regulations, or public pressure. The qualification “unreasonable” is important as this is not an absolute right. Academic freedom does not entitle you to experiment on non-consenting human subjects. An academic who falsifies results should expect disciplinary action; one who does not show up for class should not expect to get a promotion or a pay raise. But beyond such clear cases, professors should be free — and encouraged — to pursue the truth wherever it leads. There are many examples of what happens in the absence of such freedom. Think astronomy under the Catholic Church at the time of Galileo, or biology in the Soviet Union.
Keywords: academic freedom, Singapore, New Haven, Yale
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