• Home
  • About Us
  • Guest Posts

Friday, January 10, 2020

Friday, January 10, 2020

In Defense of Knowledge

Earlier this week, the AAUP issued a new statement entitled In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education.   In it, the AAUP offers both a defense of the importance of knowledge opposed to opinion and a critique of the growing efforts to undermine the authority of scholars and expertise.  It helps clarify the relationship between Academic Freedom and Free Speech and marks the importance of defending the ongoing collective work of scholarly and academic communities.  As it concludes:

In 1915 the founders of the AAUP characterized the university as “an inviolable refuge” from the “tyranny of public opinion,” as “an intellectual experiment station, where new ideas may germinate,” but also as “the conservator of all genuine elements of value in the past thought and life of mankind which are not in the fashion of the moment.” On that basis they asserted “not the absolute freedom of utterance of the individual scholar, but the absolute freedom of thought, of inquiry, of discussion and of teaching, of the academic profession.”21 They pledged, as do we, to safeguard freedom of inquiry and of teaching against both covert and overt attacks and to guarantee the long-established practices and principles that define the production of knowledge.
It is up to those who value knowledge to take a stand in the face of those who would assault it, to convey to a broad public the dangers that await us—as individuals and as a society—should that pledge be abandoned.
I urge everyone to read and share it.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad the AAUP came out with that statement. I'm curious, though, if academic professionals will see only outsiders as engaged in this attack on knowledge. For I think we've also seen some cases of university faculty and students themselves attacking other faculty members for ideological reasons, opening ourselves up for critique (or, sometimes, ridicule) from the outside and failing to embrace and defend the very view of knowledge that this AAUP statement defends. Look at the students at Evergreen State, wanting a professor fired because he disagreed with the political approach of some campus activists, or the feminist students who filed a Title IX complaint against well-known feminist scholar Laura Kipnis after Kipnis wrote an essay published in Chronicle of Higher Ed, or the professor at Wilfred Laurier University who bullied a grad student instructor because he she appeared to be challenging the party line on a gender issue.

Join the Conversation

Note: Firefox is occasionally incompatible with our comments section. We apologize for the inconvenience.