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Troubling Academic Freedom Case at Brooklyn College

February 1, 2011 UPDATE: It has been announced on Democracy Now that Brooklyn College has reversed its decision and rehired the professor.  Good sense and academic freedom prevails!

An adjunct professor at Brooklyn College was fired for his “pro-Palestinian” views.  Academic Freedom watchdog group FIRE protests the president on his behalf.  Here’s the link to the Brooklyn College case.

The Pratt collective bargaining agreement between the administration and faculty contains an article (article III) guaranteeing academic freedom, which reads:

III.1 Academic and professional freedom, creativity, and constructive dissent are essential to the functioning of the Institute as well as being a fundamental working condition. The Institute serves its community as an open intellectual forum where varying shades of opinion may be freely expressed and fairly debated.

III.2 Academic freedom shall include free discussion of material relevant to a course that a faculty member has been assigned to teach consistent with the published syllabus and established curriculum.

III.3 Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research, creation of personal works and the publication of the results. The creation of these works is not to interfere with the satisfactory performance of responsibilities to the Institute.

III.4 Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should not introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to their subject. Teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but this special position in the community imposes special obligations. As men and women of learning and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they at all times should be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others and for the established policy of their institution, and when properly identifying themselves to outside audiences as associated with the Institute should clearly indicate that they are not institutional spokespeople unless specifically commissioned to serve in such a capacity.

III.5 Academic freedom is inseparable from professional responsibility and ethics. Academic responsibility of the faculty shall include teaching effectiveness and professional competence.

III.6 Notwithstanding the foregoing, in those cases where a faculty member’s research or other work is sponsored through the Institute, the faculty member will not engage in conduct that is contrary to or inconsistent with any agreement between the Institute and the sponsoring entity.


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