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Contested Truths and the Pursuit of Knowledge: A Forum on Academic Freedom

February 28, 2007

The first core value articulated in the UNH Academic Plan states that, “the university will sustain and protect the fundamental values of academic freedom and commitment to the pursuit of knowledge.” The privileges and responsibilities associated with academic freedom are intended to enhance the ability of teachers, students, and academic institutions in the pursuit of knowledge without undue or unreasonable interference. The practice of academic freedom inevitably raises questions about standards of truth, the exercise of power in academic settings, and the place of civic discourse in the academy.

  • How can we assure the original principles of academic freedom, as articulated by the AAUP’s 1940 “Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure” are preserved and strengthened?
  • Are there limits on the exercise of academic freedom? What is the distinction between the principles of academic freedom and the free speech protections found in the First Amendment of the US Constitution?
  • In public Universities, is there a role for public oversight of the exercise of academic freedom?
  • Do students need an academic bill of rights, as has been proposed by some?
  • At UNH, how can controversial topics such as global warming, evolutionary biology, genomics, religious beliefs, conspiracy theories, and political ideologies be addresses in classrooms and public forums in a manner consistent with the principles of academic freedom?

Join Provost Bruce Mallory and colleagues on Wednesday, Feb. 28 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. in the Piscataqua Room of Holloway Commons, in an interactive conversation exploring the contemporary challenges and promises of academic freedom. Provost Mallory will be joined by:

  • Mark Silverstein, Professor of Political Science, Boston University
  • Nancy Thomas, Acting Director, The Democracy Imperative
  • Todd DeMitchell, Professor of Education and Justice Studies, UNH
  • Katherine Steere, Chair of the Academic Affairs Council, UNH Student Senate

Sponsored by Academic Affairs Council of Student Senate, Faculty Senate, the Discovery Program and the Office of the Provost.

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