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By Dennis Pavlich, Sharon E. Kahn

What's the function and nature of educational freedom? Is it a vital and fundamental worth or a foul thought in line with doubtful ideas that via omission are racist and sexist? The essays in Academic Freedom and the Inclusive University relate old and philosophical views on educational freedom to present social and political pursuits, making a big contribution to 1 of the main major highbrow debates presently attractive the modern collage.

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The special freedoms and privileges enjoyed by university communities are mechanisms that enable them to meet their social responsibilities. Only within this context is the notion of university autonomy properly understood. This autonomy is not an ancient right that must be protected at any cost. It must serve and promote the underlying civic responsibilities of universities. Thus, universities are inevitably forced to debate the relationship of their programs and commitments to the changing needs of society.

Let me give an example. Consider first the classroom. When I was at the University of Michigan, I was a state employee. One of my supervisors was Harold Shapiro, who at the time was president of the university. Imagine the following scenario. Suppose that President Shapiro said to me, “I hear that in your courses in American constitutional law you are teaching a sceptical view of the American free speech tradition. ” In the United States, I would then claim an exemption from otherwise applicable principles of responsibility to my superior.

This expectation applies to the full range of people who might work in state employment. It certainly does so in the United States. In that sense, although we can talk about academic freedom as an immunity, we would not in the United States talk about employee freedom; that is, in general, there is no constitutional right for state employees to disregard the instructions or orders of their employers. Let us think about professionals in general. Let us say we have a dentist working for the government.

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