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Dr. Slaughter Leads Seminar on Challenges to Academic Freedom

Sheila Slaughter
Meigs Hall, Room 101
General Event

Sheila Slaughter, Louise McBee Professor of Higher Education at the Institute of Higher Education, gives a seminar on challenges to academic freedom currently faced by universities. Specifically, the seminar will focus on the challenges created by intermediating organizations and by neo-nationalism--from the mid-1980s to the present.

Intermediating organizations are non-profit foundations, think-tanks, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the members of which bring together elites from corporations, political parties, the state, and universities to shape higher education policy. Neo-nationalism is a political movement that critiques global institutions and frequently views faculty with suspicion; when professors produce academic knowledge that challenges neo-nationalism they are sometimes targeted and harassed.

Dr. Slaughter will discuss the use of Merton’s norms of science as a benchmark that describes what academic freedom should (but often fails) to defend. She will also discuss the ways in which academic capitalism provides the theoretical background for the rise of intermediating organizations. Through the analysis of concrete cases, particular attention will be paid to far right, dark money foundations and their implications for academic freedom. Further, the seminar will cover the use of theories of state formation, deformation, and migration to understand the rise of neo-nationalism and its effects on academic freedom, again by analyzing specific cases. The cases were selected for their heuristic value to help problematize academic freedom, rather than to lead to predictive certainty about the future of academic freedom. Perhaps problematizing academic freedom will help us re-think norms of science and professional authority so we can better protect academic freedom.

Professor Emerita of Higher Education

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