New Volume of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom

The new volume of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom is out today! Below, guest editor Michael Bérubé describes the contents. You can read the complete editor’s introduction here.–Gwendolyn Bradley 

I’m pleased to announce that volume six of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom is being published today. Of its sixteen essays, eight discuss the case of Steven Salaita. As you doubtless know, this case became the center of a heated public debate after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, responding to controversial remarks Salaita made on Twitter, rescinded the offer it had made him of a tenured appointment.

The essays on Salaita collected here are not only multifaceted, instructive, and occasionally surprising; together, they constitute a historically significant debate over AAUP policies and principles regarding extramural speech and the use of social media. David Moshman and Frank Edler explore the tension between free speech and civility and ask why top-level administrators, when faced with the choice between defending free speech or civility, overwhelmingly defend civility. Karrieann Soto Vega and Vani Kannan take up arms against civility as well, by way of an interview with Salaita that forms the basis for their analysis of civility and collegiality in social media. Sean Anderson and John Wilson remind us that the Salaita case is not without precedent. For Anderson, Salaita’s case calls to mind the 1940 controversy in which a New York court revoked Bertrand Russell’s appointment to the College of the City of New York. Wilson discusses the 1960 case of Leo Koch, which also involved the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and which revealed what Wilson calls a “schism” within the AAUP on the matter of extramural utterances. Andrew Squires’s contribution to this volume addresses the Salaita case in the light of the 2006 Supreme Court case of Garcetti v. Ceballos, which has potentially profound implications for academic freedom in the context of shared governance. Cary Nelson argues in great detail that Salaita never should have been offered a tenured position at UIUC in the first place. Robert Warrior, director of the department to which Salaita was appointed at UIUC, offers a rebuttal to Nelson’s account of events. Nelson also argues that Salaita’s tweets should be considered as part of his profile as a scholar rather than as strictly extramural speech; in this he agrees with Don Eron, who argues that “Salaita’s tweets, because they directly invoke his area of academic authority, should be considered intramural utterance.”

This is an argument worth having. It reminds us why the AAUP exists: to set the terms for debates about and definitions of academic freedom. From Russell to Koch to Salaita, the AAUP’s position on extramural speech has been revisited and revised time and again; and as the essays collected here demonstrate, there are good reasons as to why there is no unanimity about the parameters of the extramural.

While the Salaita case was this year’s most salient academic freedom case, there are many other pressing issues before us, and the remaining eight essays in this year’s JAF address a good number of those. James Bailey’s essay on unionism at Catholic universities offers lessons from adjunct unionization at Duquesne that have national implications, while Richard McCarty’s essay holds out new hope for the teaching of sexuality and LGBT studies at Catholic universities in the era of Pope Francis I. Catherine Lawson’s essay on a 1947 controversy over a textbook on Keynesian economics has resonance for the present, when figures such as Art Pope and the Koch brothers seek to dictate what can and cannot be taught about American economics, labor, and inequality. James Nichols writes of the overreach of institutional review boards, which began as safeguards against the abuse of human subjects and now impose so many restrictions on anthropologists, journalists, and ethnographers as to constitute a genuine threat to academic freedom. Committee A Chair Henry Reichman offers an account of unionism and professionalism that sees each working to the benefit of the other. And Richard Hanley issues a warning that “in an unseemly haste to obey the demands of OCR [the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education]—under threat of Title IX investigation and punishment—university administrations across the country are implementing procedures that most people, including the implementers themselves, do not understand.” Patrick Colm Hogan engages the work of Robert Post in an argument about academic freedom and “democratic competence.” John Mowitt meditates on the vexed relations between freedom and responsibility in the concept of academic freedom.

It was an honor and a delight to edit this issue of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom. I hope you find it as engaging and provocative as I do.

–Michael Bérubé, Editor
AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom

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