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Research, Teaching, Both, or Neither: How GoKAR! Redefines Academic Freedom in a Post-truth Society

By Z. W. Taylor, Patricia Somers, and Joshua Childs

Abstract:

Although academic freedom is defined in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, its purview can be ambiguous and confusing. A recent illustration of this is the University of Texas at Austin’s decision-making regarding the GoKAR! (Kids against Racism) Project, an institutionally funded effort incorporating elements of research, service, and teaching that was temporarily halted by UT’s administration following complaints of racial discrimination. In this case study, we argue that GoKAR! is innovative and exceeds the scope of the AAUP’s 1940 Statement and many commonly held definitions of “research” and “human subjects.” Such definitions should be revisited and redefined for our evolving twenty-first-century society.

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