Daniel Burston: Civility and Academic Freedom

Vox Populi

American Universities in the Age of Trump

I’ve been teaching university-level courses – first as an adjunct, then as a full time academic – since January of 1987. In the past thirty years, I have learned that there are three core values that are vital to the welfare of universities; civility, inclusivity and academic freedom. If we were to discard even one these values completely, our universities could no longer flourish; indeed, they would crumble completely. Consider the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when academic freedom and civility were vigorously repudiated. The chaos that ensued in China’s universities did incalculable damage to Chinese society, and resulted in a considerable loss of life, as well as liberty. At the risk of stressing the obvious, we don’t want to go there. Ever.

Another thing I’ve learned during thirty-odd years of teaching is that these three values, although utterly indispensable, are often (necessarily) in conflict…

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