Academic Freedom

The freedom of a college or university to pursue its mission without interference from government – to determine for itself on academic grounds on who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study – are based on the U.S. Supreme Court which recognized a First Amendment right of institutional academic freedom.

Historical Background

The tradition of professional academic freedom dates back to at least the Enlightenment; the conviction that reason, if left free, could discover useful knowledge; favors individual freedom, open-mindedness and the use of reason to foster human progress. “Scholars should be free to pursue truth and to transmit truth to students, and students should be free to learn.”

During the 19th century, higher education shifted from religious and moral training for the elite professions to a broader intellectual inquiry. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, lay governing boards imposed constraints on new hypotheses or the criticism of existing ones, and were not viewed as competent to evaluate academic qualifications and performance.

In 1915, a General Declaration of Principles was made by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that defines the American concept of academic freedom. In 1940, AAUP statement of principles incorporates the rights for research and teaching and defines the corresponding duties of the faculty.

University of California Background

In 1934, UC President Robert G. Sproul issued the first statement on academic freedom as Academic Personnel Policy 010. It held for 69 years and in 2003, a revised APM 010 policy was issued along with a paper entitled “Academic Freedom and the Research University”. The Regents policy on course content issued in 1970 and the Faculty Code of Conduct (APM 015) and Manual of the Irvine Division of the Academic Senate, Appendix III, Sections I and II (Policies on Faculty Conduct and the Administration of Discipline) are also intended to read in conjunction with APM 015.

During the 19th century, higher education shifted from religious and moral training for the elite professions to a broader intellectual inquiry. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, lay governing boards imposed constraints on new hypotheses or the criticism of existing ones, and were not viewed as competent to evaluate academic qualifications and performance.

In 1915, a General Declaration of Principles was made by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that defines the American concept of academic freedom. In 1940, AAUP statement of principles incorporates the rights for research and teaching and defines the corresponding duties of the faculty.