33rd Annual Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom
“Academic Freedom 2024: Educational Gag Orders, State Censorship, and the Fight for Higher Education”
Across the country, state legislators are increasingly making clear their intentions to pass laws to tighten control over — or outright censor — public education in schools, colleges and universities. On campuses, this movement threatens to upend commitments to the free exchange of ideas and institutional autonomy in curricular, research, and hiring decisions, putting academic freedom in peril. Professors are already attesting to a chilled climate, in which they have become concerned with running afoul of new laws delimiting teaching about race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities. This talk will summarize the current state of play concerning this rising menace, why it must be confronted, and how the higher education community has a unique role to play in communicating this anti-democratic threat to the public. It will offer a clarion call and suggestions for how to create campuses that serve academic freedom for all in the lead up to the 2024 election and beyond.
Jonathan Friedman, Ph.D., is the director of free expression and education programs at PEN America. He oversees research, advocacy, and education related to academic freedom, educational gag orders, book bans, and general free expression in schools, colleges, and universities.