Ethics

The Personal Ethics of Academic Freedom: Problems of Knowledge and Democratic Competence

The following essay takes up Robert Post’s influential account of academic freedom in order to consider the role of personal ethics in practices surrounding academic freedom. The essay begins by outlining and proposing some revisions of Post’s account. It then considers three topics that are connected with academic freedom: the responsibilities of academics in extramural speech; in professional evaluation of research; and, finally, in tenure decisions.

Invigorating the Classroom

In a lengthy two-part, online essay titled “Politicizing the Classroom,” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, argues that the AAUP’s recent report Ensuring Academic Freedom in Politically Controversial Academic Personnel Decisions is an effort to politicize the university. He advocates, as if it were an alternative, that the university focus on improving the quality of student learning. I disagree with his critique, and particularly his contrived assumption that advocacy and learning are contradictory.

Biology, Theology, and Academic Freedom: The Challenges of Interdisciplinary Teaching at a Catholic University

Emerging genetic technologies resulting from the Human Genome Project continue to have ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI). This essay will address the challenges of teaching this topic in an interdisciplinary course at a religiously affiliated school, specifically a Catholic university. The article will examine the concept of academic freedom; explore the concept of Catholic identity in higher education; demonstrate how academic freedom and respect for a religious tradition can be achieved through specific pedagogical techniques; and finally, offer some general suggestions for teaching genetics in a religiously affiliated institution.

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