On Academic Freedom and Inclusive Education

I found this article on Inside Higher Ed the other day and thought there were interesting conversations going on in the comments section.

Someone pointed out that Sweden doesn’t have the same standards for academic freedom as the United States, so while Ringmar is perfectly entitled to his personal opinions about the role and power of the institution over his courses, he doesn’t necessarily have any rights regarding course construction that were violated in this case.

Others pointed out that if Ringmar was so hardpressed to find sources written by women, he might not be as expert in his field as he claims, highlighting that in cases where women were silenced or ignored in their time, their work might be of special import from an analytic sense.

Others, still, suggested that the issue was not that Ringmar removed one of few women from the course readings, but rather that he had an approved course syllabus and reading list and changed it after students had signed up for the course such that they were not getting the educational experiences for which they enrolled.

I just thought this case brought up the interesting balance between academic freedom and balanced and inclusive education. For example, is a professor simply advocating for their own academic freedom by ignoring a perspective in their course readings and teachings? Does that not negatively impact the students’ educational experience? Isn’t that kind of how we got to a point where a lot of public school students didn’t realize the misogyny and racism rampant in all of the American forefathers until university? I guess I am just wondering how we might balance a fair and inclusive educational experience while respecting faculty rights to academic freedom.

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