Academic Freedom between History and Human Rights in a Global Context

Antoon de Baets*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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    This chapter examines the phenomenon of academic freedom from a global, historical and human rights perspective. Its first part presents academic freedom as a right that comes with duties and conditions. Professional norms and duties toward the academic community, the university and society determine its limits. The internal condition under which academic freedom thrives – institutional autonomy – and the delicate balance between academic freedom and institutional autonomy are then analyzed, indicating historical antecedents of both in the process. The external condition for academic freedom lies in the guarantees offered by the state and by society to universities in constitutions, laws and policies. The question of why academics are so often among the first targets of repression is tackled and the external parties exerting improper pressure on them identified. This first part also deals critically with the problem of how to measure academic freedom. The second part examines how academic freedom is related to the broader web of human rights and which of the latter serve as basic conditions for the former. It tries to dissipate the persistent confusion between academic freedom and freedom of expression. This part also contains an appraisal of the most controversial question: how can academic freedom be justified? Four positions about its right to exist are weighed. The outcome of that evaluation leads to the bigger discussion of what exactly the role of universities in a society is. Three unique tasks are identified. Assessing each of them leads to the conclusion that academic freedom is necessary for the university’s survival.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThird International Handbook of Globalisation, Education and Policy Research
    EditorsJoseph Zajda
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-66003-1
    ISBN (Print)978-3-030-66002-4
    Publication statusPublished - Sept-2021

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