forthcoming in Carolyn Evans and Adrienne Stone, Open Minds: Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech, Black Inc, La Trobe University Press, 2020
31 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2020 Last revised: 26 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 25, 2020
In current debates and historical ones, the concepts of freedom of speech and academic freedom are much bandied about. They are often used interchangeably or grouped together under the rather nebulous heading of ‘intellectual freedom’. There is a reason why these two ideas are so prominent. Each is central to the very idea of a university. But against the common usage, we think that there is an important distinction between the two ideas. Academic freedom arises from and serves to enable the university’s role in advancing and disseminating knowledge. Academic freedom will not protect all expressive activity in a university, much of which bears little relation to its research and teaching. But where academic freedom does apply, its protection is strong, allowing robust challenge to orthodox ideas even if the challenge is a minority view and even if it is unpopular or offensive. It also requires that students are provided with an opportunity to learn and sufficient expressive freedom to do so and it brings with it a freedom for academics to criticise university governance. Other kinds of expressive activity on campus – including political protest, non-academic discussion, and the activities of visiting speakers – are protected by the distinct values of a free speech principle.
This is chapter 3 of a forthcoming book Carolyn Evans and Adrienne Stone, Open Minds: Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom (Black Inc, 2021) (with Jade Roberts)
Keywords: freedom of speech, intellectual freedom
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation