As I will discuss in a post that I am presently working no (“Science Issues For The 2016 Political Season”), I think one of the major issues that need to be discussed during the 2016 political season is academic freedom.
It strikes me that there are those in this country who are not comfortable with other individuals learning. Power seems to come much easier when you can control what others know and you find ways to limit creative thought. And it does not matter whether we are talking about
Let me first start by noting that academic freedom does not give you the right to teach whatever you feel like teaching. In the case of science, this means that you cannot teach creationism or its updated counterpart, intelligent design, as an alternative to evolution. It is not that scientists are trying to censor thought or limit the debate but those who advocate creationism tend to ignore the established rules of scientific inquiry when arguing their side of the issue. They have the right to do so but not in the classroom. I will say this though, if proponents of creationism can provide a rationale way for individuals to work the details by themselves, they are free to do that.
With that in mind, here is a summary of my posts dealing with academic freedom:
“In The Beginning” – posted on 16 May 2008; this included a list of academic professionals who were threatened because they refused to accept “intelligent design” as an alternative to the theory of evolution. One of the individuals on the list taught at an institution where I had been a faculty member; I mentioned another of the listed individuals (Richard Colling) in the next post (“The Dilemma of Science and Faith”).
“The Dilemma Of Science and Faith” – posted on 21 January 2009
“To Teach Or Not To Teach” – posted on 3 September 2009
“The Nature of Academic Freedom” – posted on 17 March 2010 (there was a report in this morning’s “Inside Higher Education – Jury Backs Professor Fired By Erskine College” that the college I mentioned in this posted (Erskine College) violated the rights of an English professor and awarded him $600,000. The issue appears that the professor encouraged critical thinking by his students and the need to study science in a way that did not conform literally to the Bible, which would have been in conflict with the college’s philosophy.
“The Clash of Science, Culture, and Politics” – posted on 29 May 2012
“Continuing Thoughts On Academic Freedom” – posted on 10 August 2013 (part of this post discussed the hiring of an advocated for intelligent design by a department of physics and astronomy).
“Further Thoughts On Academic Freedom” – posted 12 March 2015