Academic Freedom, Continued

by Scott McLemee on June 7, 2007

Cary Nelson, the president of the American Association of University Professors, came by the Inside Higher Ed offices for lunch earlier this week. The organization is having its annual meeting, starting today. He agreed to do an interview for a podcast, and spent about an hour talking to the editors and staff with a microphone there on the table, amidst water bottles, sandwich wrappers, and chocolate-chip cookies.

Though I’m not sure he could yell on-message one-liners in the manner required to make it on cable TV, Nelson seemed otherwise quite well-spoken. He fielded a pretty hard-edged question about the Ward Churchill case, and talked some about the idea of a major campaign to raise public awareness of the meaning of academic freedom. (“Major” as in requiring a budget of $30 million, which would mean funding from other than AAUP coffers.) And he addressed the topic of academic boycotts and the AAUP’s attitude toward them.

A selection of highlights from the hour is available here as an mp3. Mentioned only in passing is the fact that AAUP will be issuing a major statement on academic freedom in September — in large part, it sounds like, because of a perceived lack of understanding of the concept even by university professors.

Meanwhile, another AAUP member named John K. Wilson has published a manifesto complaining that the organization is “fading in importance” due to its “calcified traditions.”



marcel 06.07.07 at 4:34 pm

aaup = american association of university presses? And it is concerned with academic freedom? Who’d a thunk it? I always think of aaup (when I think of it, that is), as the American Association of University Professors. Learn something new everyday.


Scott McLemee 06.07.07 at 4:51 pm

Fixed it….Force of habit. I’m heading off to the other AAUP next week. A brilliant move, giving them such similar names.

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