Prof. Eva Georgii-Hemming - Keynote abstract

Academic freedom under threat? Concepts, contexts, and challenges

The freedom of teaching, study, and research is the foundation of higher education institutions. The free search for new knowledge, the freedom of expression and publication characterizes the academic profession. Academic freedom and independent universities are essential to our society for advancing knowledge, the upholding of democracy and, a vital precondition for the safeguarding of other freedoms.

Academic freedom is however under attack. Authoritarian political regimes, fact-free argumentation, intolerance, and different kinds of discrimination are rising. Academic freedom is also threatened by organizational structures gradually reformed away from a collegial and towards a more corporate model. Among the risks resulting from such trends, are that academics may feel pressure to tailor their research to align with certain priorities or certain beliefs. Freedom does not arise or persist spontaneously. It is therefore necessary to defend it.

The overall purpose of this paper is to lay the foundations for our discussions about academic freedom during the conference. I will talk about the concept of academic freedom by placing it in different contexts. I will also address the challenges faced by music education research by relating these to concepts such as power and profession, trust and control. I will conclude by highlighting potential avenues that can be taken in response to challenges to academic freedom, with reference to matters of freedom of research.

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ny bild eva.jpgPhoto: Örebro university.