Academic freedom is the liberty to disseminate information or teach as someone deems fit, to do research in any of the area of choice of the researcher without any restraint and to ascertain and disseminate novel ideas irrespective of their controversial nature (Kennedy, 1997, Page 1, Line 3-6). As in other types of conventional freedoms, governments, individuals and authorities are required to permit the researchers to work with complete freedom and ensure that freedom in such work is not hindered.In fact, academic freedom requires the society to provide such an environment which nourishes novel notions and allows the scholars to freely express them.
Historically, the world has seen quite a number of examples which depict the importance of academic freedom. Many famous intellectuals and researchers were sentenced to death or life imprisonment for preaching their novel ideas. For instance Socrates had to see the face of gallows for preaching and corrupting Athens’s youth. Similarly, Galileo advocated Solar System’s Copernican view and was thus imprisoned for life. Descartes had to restrain himself from writing controversial notes to avoid trouble. Many teachers had to lose their jobs for teaching Darwin’s theory to their students. Although ideas of these great scholars and researchers were able to survive, it is not known that how many ideas were not allowed to ne promulgated due to lack of academic freedom(Robinson & Moulton, 2002, Page 1, Line 7-12).
The practice of inhibiting academic freedom can also be seen in the modern history. In 1950s, anti-communist sentiment broke and universities were pressurized by William Jenner and Joseph McCarthy in the house and senate respectively to fire teachers whose ideas were considered sympathetic towards aims of the communists. The authorities and governments of those times variedly reacted to the situation however, this pressurization led to the universities to protect the academic freedom of ...Show more