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A letter was sent to the UCU that threatened a counter-boycott of any event that would bar Israeli academics; signatories included 2, American scholars, including nine Nobel laureates. Alan Dershowitz organized a large legal team on both sides of the Atlantic that was poised to fight the union in court and he promised to isolate the British academy if necessary.

Though an immediate showdown had been averted, BRICUP activists in the UCU showed little inclination to desist; instead, they initiated campus tours of programs and radical pro-Palestinian speakers. In May , the annual UCU Congress passed a resolution to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions; it was immediately invalidated on the advice of UCU attorneys who warned the action would trigger a legal challenge against the union.

The meeting also heard from many former members who had resigned in protest over perceptions of institutional anti-Semitism, but the Congress refused to table a resolution on the subject. Participants in the debate argued the definition has stifled criticism of Israel. Still, the UCU faced other obstacles when implementing the resolution.

Unofficially, it was known that the government was anxious to avoid disruption promised by the anti-boycott movement. Analysis of events in Great Britain supports the view that interconnecting factors have shaped the history of academic freedom at the institutional and individual levels. Two factors, in particular, stand out: the Thatcher reform and the ensuing pressure to institute the management model, and the War on Terror that impacted the boundaries of permissible campus speech.

The contemporary litmus test of academic freedom—Israel in the Middle East—has been significantly affected by these broader developments. Chapter 3. The United States. The American and Israeli higher education systems are not easily compared, creating complexities that have eluded many observers and rendering attempts to apply guidelines from the American model difficult or misleading.

Two somewhat clashing definitions of academic freedom have existed in the U. The first drafted by faculty organizations and the second created by constitutional case law. The cultural antecedents of the American university were grounded in the academic experiences of Great Britain and Germany. In non-denominational universities, faculty was commonly hired by having an unofficial quota for each denomination Protestants, Catholics and even an occasional Jew. The system was remarkably apolitical; despite bitter and emotional debates on slavery, ante-bellum state universities remained fairly neutral.

Things changed little after the Civil War, as powerful Boards of Trustees—drawn from political and business community leaders—kept a tight rein on permissible freedoms.

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The industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century spurred efforts to convert the higher education system into a scientific enterprise. The Humboldtian model was a natural fit, highly-praised by the many Americans who travelled to Germany to pursue advanced degrees. It promised both to introduce scientific rigor within the classroom and to invoke emphasis on freedom of inquiry and speech, thereby creating a potent tool for those who wished to fight the all-powerful boards.

Fired-up by their Lehrfreiheit laced experience in Germany, returning scholars became advocates for institutional autonomy and individual freedom.


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Two marketplace imperatives enhanced their efficacy; the expanding university system created a shortage of well-qualified scholars, making more acceptable their demands for remuneration and job security and faculty were deemed to be better qualified to implement merit-hiring than were external bodies such as lay boards. The call for self-governance by faculty came from leading scholars of the early 20th century such as John Dewey and Arthur Lovejoy. The resulting movement led to the creation of the Association of American University Professors AAUP in January , boasting charter members, many of whom were leading authorities in their fields.

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As they entered this battleground, however, faculty could rely neither on protection being provided by the law or by the states; courts were reluctant to intervene in academic matters, and state legislatures were not likely to extend protections to the academy because they, like the boards, were suspicious of the rights of faculty. Because the AAUP still embraced the signature of the Humboldtian notion that the classroom was the marketplace of ideas, it promoted adherence to the norms of objectivity, neutrality and competence in research and teaching.

Ministry of Education (Israel) - Wikipedia

In a related matter, the AAUP demanded that faculty refrain from speaking on matters about which they lacked expertise and eschew any politicizing of the classroom. This was part of a professional self-regulation regimen, justified by the AAUP by noting that professors were experts and, unlike laymen, could be trusted to behave in a professional manner. In exchange for providing expertise, they would be empowered to reject external interference; this served the professoriate remarkably well for, until the last few decades, they had evaded the kind of public regulations that other professionals could not stave-off.

Outside the classroom though, faculty was given much more leeway than their German and English counterparts. The American tradition of free speech and civic engagement fueled the AAUP demand that faculty be allowed a liberal dose of extramural expression. As carefully as the AAUP tried to tread, academics could not escape political controversy.

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The First World War posed another challenge to the AAUP in ways that resembled British censorship laws, the public demanded that faculty contribute to the war effort by refraining from speech and action that could be construed as injurious to social cohesion and morality. While individual academics and some universities agreed to forgo their right to freedom of expression, the faculty as a whole balked at the efforts to impose a loyalty standard. Indeed, the effort to fight the doctrine of loyalty mobilized the faculty to fight for even greater levels of academic freedom.

To the extent to which WWI tested academic freedom, university staff emerged strengthened and hardened. Such self-congratulation was fully justified; the Statement was acclaimed as a reference by both public and private universities and individual faculty. William W. Compared with his prodigious efforts to ferret-out alleged Communists and Communist sympathizers in Hollywood, the State Department and the military, Senator Joseph McCarthy had only a limited interest in scholars.

To understand this paradox, it is worth recalling that both the and the AAUP docu'ments had posited the existence of a strict division between the intramural and extramural speech.

Efforts to blur this barrier had not yet become commonplace because a premium had been placed upon objective, apolitical, scientific-like research in the liberal arts by those advocating the positivist-behavioral approach that was becoming increasingly popular in the s. Even those who were unhappy with the Soviet Union and communism resisted measures that McCarthy had inspired, including the loyalty oaths that public universities were forced to administer to their employees. The AAUP acted to protect faculty by censuring institutions that followed loyalty dictates or that wrongfully dismissed faculty.

AAUPs censure has served to deter other colleges from pursuing comparable practices. In , New Hampshire passed the Subversives Activities Act, making persons deemed subversive to be illegible for state employment. In , Paul Sweezy, a leading Marxist economist and an occasional guest lecturer at the University of Hampshire, was fired after the State Attorney General had investigated the content of his lectures.

A dispute between professors and the University of Buffalo, which had joined the public State University of New York network in , generated another influential ruling. When Harry Keishiyan and his colleagues refused, their contracts were not renewed.

The Retreat from Public Education

They sued and, in , the Court ruled their constitutional rights had been violated. Charges of McCarthyism became most handy in the wake of the war in Vietnam and the politicization of liberal arts. The cultural revolution of the sixties and the anti-Vietnam movement profoundly impacted humanities and, particularly, social sciences. Riding the wave of an unprecedented expansion of higher education that saw the number of faculty double between and many New Left activists embraced academic careers in liberal arts.

They joined a veteran faculty which, according to surveys extending back to the early s, was much more liberal than the general population. Leftist trends in Ivy League and other elite schools—where they were most trenchant—gradually diffused into lower-ranking schools.

In the Humboldtian marketplace of ideas, conservative faculty should have provided necessary balance; instead, conservative forces remained in retreat, as they had been for the better part of the century, a trend that the anti-McCarthy backlash and the Vietnam War served only to exacerbate. Faced by no countervailing force, New Left academics became card-carrying members of the New Class, a term coined by Seymour M. Many of their younger cohorts were deeply hostile to capitalism and the United States, its standard-bearer.

Capitalism was criticized on multiple levels; domestically, it was perceived as a creator of injustice, inequality and human misery, internationally a promoter of colonialism and imperialism. American Political Science Associations and American Sociologist Associations boasted a large number of radical scholars, followed closely by the American Historical Association. Within less than a decade, younger academic cohorts challenged the traditional positivist standard that had aspired to pursue truth in social sciences dispassionately.

The new paradigm was derived from a number of somewhat-clashing approaches, spanning Marxist, neo-Marxist and critical traditions. In their view, because texts concealed power relations in a given society, it was necessary that they be deconstructed to unleash suppressed voices of the powerless. Jurgen Habermas, a student of Adorno and a rising neo-Marxist star in Germany, helped bridge the gap between the Frankfurt School and the French critical scholars by abandoning the classic attention to the material base of capitalism to focus solely on communication in post-capitalist society which, in his view, rewarded linguistic competence associated with class and power.

Rationality, objectivity, standards of excellence and merit are slogans to convince the downtrodden that subordination is justice. To even the playing field, Marcuse suggested the narratives of certain groups should be banned from the marketplace of ideas, namely, those who allegedly promoted discrimination against minority groups, aggressive policies, racism, and chauvinistic nationalism.

While liberal arts departments across the country struggled to accommodate the new paradigm, its impact on academic freedom and, ultimately, the standing of the academy were poorly understood at first. The unique privileges granted to university faculty, as opposed to other public and private employees, were premised on the notion that universities have a unique responsibility not only to disseminate knowledge but also to improve on it.

It was on this basis that Van Alstyne reminded faculty about the correlative duties that accompanied such a valued privilege. Some educators resorted to warning publicly that the new paradigm was eroding the standing of higher education. The skepticism and the suspicion with which universities are now greeted and treated even by friends of learning exceed anything that I can recall. For centuries, scholars…have worked hard to persuade that knowledge will grow, and [that] the public good will be served, by granting academic independence to individual professors and to universities.

Initially, the AAUP shared these concerns. Most ominously, the assaults on academic freedom from within the institution, by or with the tolerance of members of faculties themselves, have gone unpunished. Just as the new generation in AAUP decided to dispense with the cautious balancing of academic freedoms and correlative duties, it was hit by a powerful backlash that captured the public imagination. To the extent to which the neo-Marxist, critical scholarship represented a European import superimposed on the upheavals of the s, its neoconservative antithesis was a uniquely American movement.

Neoconservatives provided a comprehensive critique of the perceived excesses of liberalism-turned-radicalism in all aspects of American life. But criticism of the academy attracted the most attention, particularly because the Reagan administration supported it through the National Endowment for Humanities NEH. In , William J.

Cheney, followed-up with a string of scathing publications.


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With public opinion now aroused, it took only a few high-profile cases to make the neoconservative point that liberal arts had become a shelter for some extremely radical professors with dubious academic credentials.