A Pilot Study of Faculty Views
This chapter discusses the results of a pilot study that examined the views of faculty members at major universities regarding the principle of academic freedom and free inquiry, especially when it may conflict with other values and norms at the institution. In particular, the study explored the reactions of the faculty of Columbia University to fourteen hypothetical situations, asking them to assess certain actions of a fictional professor and to tell us whether and/or how much the professor should be sanctioned for her or his actions. Preliminary findings show that most faculty members associate academic freedom with freedom of expression. Faculty members were almost exactly equally divided on the question of whether students had the right to picket and boycott a class because they believed the professor was presenting a biased point of view. It seems that relatively few faculty members, even at a place like Columbia, have given much time to thinking about the limits and consequences of restraints on academic freedom, despite the consequences that it may have for free inquiry at the university.
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