Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Academic Freedom to Blog - via @ChrisParrTHE

Chris Parr comments in the Times Higher Education that many "university employees like to blog". He says that academics like to do this "to gather their thoughts in one place, pass comment on current affairs, or vent their frustration at the annoyances of everyday life". Though I am not a University employee, I do work as a Lecturer at third-level at the National College of Ireland (NCI). In his comment, Parr describes a situation where academics got into a bit of bother at the Chicago State University over using the College's brand and name in their blog.

Image source: Tenured Radical.
As a so-called academic myself I of course support academic freedom, and I'm glad to say that there is a healthy attitude to this at NCI. Very few of the academics at NCI blog (I'm only aware of one colleague that does), but it is common among academics of other colleges - three of my favourites are Stephen Kinsella (UL), Brian Lucey (TCD), and Karl Whelan (UCD). There is no restriction on my blogging by NCI - I have never been asked to modify or delete any of my 1,000+ posts. It is really cool to be able to take time during working hours and feel free to write a blog post on educational matters. For non-educational matters I tend to write posts at home (as I am now doing), or during a break.

I am of course careful in what I write so that I do not invite comment from College management. Even when I feel critical of College activities I self-censor myself and hold back, sometimes with great difficulty. In this way I have a self imposed control of my own Academic Freedom. But if others want to go further I support their freedom to do so. In the video below, students and faculty of Florida Atlantic University are protesting about academic freedom in a case where a professor stood on a piece of paper with the word "Jesus" written on it. As a Christian myself I think this action is a bit silly, but the professor involved should not be censured for expressing an opinion. Long Live Academic Freedom!

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