Open academic culture, more crucial than ever, is in peril

Why campuses are becoming polarized — and what we can do about it.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The narrowing of academic freedom is a major problem for institutions of higher education.
  • Social media, external pressures, and increasingly diverse student bodies — while providing some positives — create more opportunity for misunderstanding and miscommunication.
  • Reaffirming the value of and commitment to open debate ensures a more vibrant academic culture.
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Before you write an open letter, make sure it meets this criteria

When it comes to scholarly engagement, what kinds of critique are considered appropriate and acceptable?

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  • Open letters are welcome in an academic environment, but they should meet certain criteria to be considered valid.
  • While scholars are always encouraged to share their critique of a published work or body of research, they must engage with the same ethical principles as expected in other scholarly discourse.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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The right to know: How does censorship affect academics?

When academics and journalists forego sharing their findings, out of intimidation, we all lose out.

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  • Academic freedom is what makes a university space work as a setting to develop students' capacities. It is the permission to think freely, and have contrarian discussions, that leads to new insights.
  • There are whole zones of knowledge that we never get to because of intimidation put on academics: "We simply don't know what we haven't even thought to ask."
  • Self-censorship, especially regarding sensitive topics, is the dark matter of the academic freedom universe. Out of fear of being attacked, or their families being harmed, some journalists and scholars will forego publishing their findings.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

How outrage mobs silence academics — and what we can do to stop them

When the protection of academic freedom is compromised, scholarship and greater society suffer the effects.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Social media has made it easier than ever to succumb to mob mentality and let our worst instincts and impulses run rampant. Outrage mobs pose a new and unique threat to professors' academic freedom.
  • Although expressing moral outrage can feel good, bad actors can use outrage mobs to further their own specific agendas, leaving careers ruined and productive discourse even further out of reach.
  • University leaders should stop caving to outrage mobs and start standing up for academic freedom, both for students and professors.
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