The ongoing conflicts at the University of British Columbia that I wrote about last week have caused a lot of discussion about the concept of “academic freedom”. Unfortunately, a fair amount of that discussion has criticized academic freedom as nothing more than an excuse for lazy academics to do irrelevant work, or as something that’s only important to ivory-tower inhabitants fighting over trivial issues.
Clearly I’m biased on the importance of academic freedom, because it’s extremely relevant to my occupation. But the right to academic freedom in universities is something that is, and should be, important to everyone. Here’s why. (more…)