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Call for Papers

The submissions deadline of February 8, 2021, has passed. We will release a new call for papers for the 2022 volume this fall.


Volume 12: Practices of Academic Freedom in Times of Austerity

On Twitter, Kenyan blogger Keguro Macharia (@keguro_) regularly poses the question, "How will you practice freedom today?" It is a useful reminder that freedom is not only an ideal but also a practice and lived experience. Without practice, freedom is an inconsequential abstraction. The question also prompts us to ask, How does one practice, rather than merely protect, academic freedom? How can these practices be expanded and made irresistible?

Of course, the current crisis in higher education dictates that practices of academic freedom take place in a context of institutional austerity. The politics of austerity in higher education often function to curtail or threaten academic freedom. As managerial practices intensify academic hierarchies in the name of financial efficiency, these hierarchies affect practices of academic freedom and shared governance. What collective and individual responses might redefine available practices of freedom?

For its next volume, scheduled for publication in fall 2021, the Journal of Academic Freedom seeks original articles that explore questions of current practices of freedom in and around the university: What does it mean to practice academic freedom during a time of austerity? What is the relationship between academic freedom, other freedoms, and other freedom struggles? How does academic freedom function for precarious faculty and staff, for students, for tenured and tenure-track faculty from marginalized groups? How do practices of academic freedom respond to the challenges of austerity? How might posing academic freedom as an embodied struggle over material means change our ideas and strategies?

We will consider any essay on the topic of academic freedom, but are especially interested in the following topics.

Academic Freedom and Freedom Struggles

Black studies scholar Barbara Ransby observes that the Black Lives Matter movement “is nothing less than a challenge to all of us to rethink, reimagine, and reconstruct the entire society we live in.” This includes the university and practices of academic freedom. This movement and the ongoing uprising in the United States and around the world invite and demand reconsideration of higher education’s physical spaces and cultural practices, including the monuments and public art present on our campuses, the conversations taking place in our classrooms, the curricula on offer, the demographics of those who work in and enroll in our institutions, and the relationship between these institutions and the communities they serve. We invite consideration of any of these concerns in the context of the contemporary fiscal crisis. 

Sanctuary Campuses

How do calls for sanctuary campuses invite practices of academic freedom? What are aspirational and actually existing models of sanctuary campuses, and how do these engage broad questions of shared governance and academic freedom? How does the struggle for sanctuary campuses link higher education advocacy to broader social movements?

Pedagogy and Affect

The classroom is an important space for the practice of academic freedom. Contemporary freedom movements raise important questions about access to the classroom and diverse experiences within it. Along with the dynamic challenges posed by teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, insights from freedom struggles provide new models for teaching and learning. How do LGBTQ, disability rights, and BIPOC formations propose alternative practices of academic freedom? What are the parameters of these new models, and what opportunities and challenges do they convey?

The Material Means of Mental Production

Academic freedom is conditioned on access to resources—libraries, classrooms, research funds, time, access to a community of scholars—that are the tools that Karl Marx called the "material means of mental production." Though the ideal of the university promises academic freedom to faculty, in reality, external boards and state governors are the legal guardians of university property and ultimately control access to the instruments of knowledge production. How do academics fight to wrest control of the material means of mental production? What is the relationship of this struggle to broader social transformations? How has the imposition of austerity budgets at public and private institutions changed the terms of these struggles?

Libraries and Librarians

In the struggle for academic freedom, libraries are essential sites and librarians are essential workers. How can libraries be spaces for the expansion of academic and other freedoms? How do issues around collections, catalogs, access, reference, and information literacy affect academic freedom? How have librarians expanded academic freedom in fights against austerity budgets, profit-driven publishers, and surveillance, and in fights for open access, privacy, and freedom from harassment? 

Internationalist Practices

How are practices of academic freedom different in political contexts outside of the United States? What lessons in fighting austerity emanate from other geographic contexts? How are austerity regimes outgrowths of colonial and neocolonial ones? How are practices of academic freedom also practices of decolonization?


Electronic submissions of 2,000–8,000 words should be sent to by February 8, 2021, and they must include an abstract of about 150 words and a short biographical note of one to two sentences about the author(s). Authors using pseudonyms must notify the journal at the time of submission, disclose their real names, and explain their reasons for wishing to keep their identities confidential. Please read our editorial policy prior to submitting. We welcome submissions by any and all faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars. If you have any questions, contact faculty editors Rachel Ida Buff or S. Ani Mukherji (please do not send submissions to their addresses).

While this is an academic journal with submissions subject to peer review (authors should indicate with their initial submissions if this is useful or important to them), we welcome innovative and journalistic prose styles. The journal uses the seventeenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, and authors should anticipate that, if an article is accepted for publication, it will need to be put into Chicago style. Read more about the Journal of Academic Freedom.

Download a one-page version of the Journal of Academic Freedom call for papers.