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Dictionary of the History of Ideas

Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas
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7 occurrences of Dictionary_of_the_History_of_Ideas
[Clear Hits]

II

Academic freedom is usually described as the right
of each individual member of the faculty of an institu-
tion to enjoy the freedom to study, to inquire, to speak
his mind, to communicate his ideas, and to assert the
truth as he sees it. In the United States, the professor's
academic freedom is often defined in terms of full
freedom in research and in the publication of the
results, in classroom discussion of his subject, and in
the exercise extra-murally of his basic rights as a citi-
zen. But in America, and increasingly in other parts
of the world, the concept of academic freedom has
been broadened to include students as well as teachers.
The freedom of the professor to teach is merely one
side of the coin of academic freedom, the other side
being the freedom of the student to learn.

In the historical sense this concept is neither very
novel nor particularly American. It was a familiar point
in the great days of German higher education, during
the half century preceding World War I, that a close
affinity between Lehrfreiheit and Lernfreiheit was rec-
ognized, though for the student the freedom to learn
assumed characteristics not generally to be found in
other countries. Once he had received the abitur (an
examination taken at age 19 or 20, at the end of the
gymnasium period), he was free to wander from school
to school, to attend classes as he chose, and to take
examinations whenever he felt prepared, and to try
again if he failed. Otherwise he was never given grades
and the flunk-out for unsatisfactory scholarship was
unknown. This sort of student freedom was not widely
practiced or recognized in other countries.

By the third quarter of the twentieth century, uni-


011

versity students in the United States, and indeed all
other elements of the university community, became
more and more interested in those aspects of academic
freedom which are of immediate concern to students.
Various student associations began to draft statements
of specific rights which they thought they were entitled
to claim as against interference by college and univer-
sity authorities. Civil liberties organizations and pro-
fessorial groups also became active in this effort to spell
out the academic freedom rights of the students. This
activity produced, in 1967, a Joint Statement on Rights
and Freedoms of Students,
drafted by a joint committee
made up of representatives of the American Associa-
tion of University Professors, the U. S. National Student
Association, the Association of American Colleges, the
National Association of Student Personnel Adminis-
trators, and the National Association of Women Deans
and Counselors. Other educational associations have
endorsed the Statement since its formulation, and thus
it is rapidly acquiring standing as an authoritative
statement of desirable normative principles.

The Statement points out that “freedom to teach and
freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic
freedom.” It is noted that since “free inquiry and free
expression are indispensable to the attainment” of the
goals of academic institutions—which are: “the trans-
mission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the devel-
opment of students, and the general well-being of
society”—“students should be encouraged to develop
the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in
a sustained and independent search for truth.” To this
end, the Statement spells out the rights of students as
regards institutional admission policies, in the class-
room, in respect to student records, student affairs, and
off-campus activities. In the area of student affairs,
various standards are stated with respect to freedom
of association, freedom of inquiry and expression, par-
ticipation in institutional government, and student
publications. A detailed final section seeks to delineate,
with considerable particularity, procedural standards
in disciplinary proceedings, to the end that students
may enjoy a full measure of due process.