The Limits of Academic Freedom
The groves of academe in Athens where Plato and other Greek scholars gave lectures, has long been idealized as an intellectual oasis, and a model for universities around the world, a place where free thinking without fear or favor would be forever encouraged. But today on college campuses from U.C. Santa Cruz to Yale outspoken professors are learning about trigger warnings, dangerous no-go zones; topics that are off limits. Apart from the stultifying effects of self-censorship among the best and the brightest, that open space beneath a shady grove of trees is becoming a marketplace, a profit center in an increasingly corporatized higher education system. To reverse the trend, a renewed commitment to, free speech, pluralism and a rigorous systemic critique is needed.
Steven Salaita is the Edward Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a regular columnist for Electronic Intifada and a member of the Organizing Committee of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. He is the author of Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures and Politics, Anti-Arab Racism in the USA and Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.