With Shannon Dea

Academic Freedom in a Polarized Age

What are the values a public university must stand for in a polarized age? How should a university defend and conceptualize these values in practice and in dialogue with students, staff, and the wider academic community? These and other challenges will be discussed this afternoon with Professor Dr. Shannon Dea, a leading public thinker on academic freedom.

Academic freedom is a challenging matter in the context of divisive political conflicts locally and globally. Should universities aim to be neutral, and is this even possible? Should there be uniform university policies on academic freedom, or is there room for discipline/faculty specific interpretations? How ought one resolve the tension, if any, between academic freedom and duties of care when participants in debates express concerns over social safety?

This event is part of a broader internal dialogue on the UvA’s campuses about the nature and practices of academic freedom. But academic freedom is not just a matter for researchers, students, and administrators, it also concerns society as the intense media attention about it reveals. In fact, the conversation about academic freedom itself is educative and constitutive for the university and the public it serves.

About the speakers

Shannon Dea is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Regina in Canada. She is the author of Beyond the Binary: Thinking About Sex and Gender (Broadview, 2016) and of numerous articles and book chapters on topics in feminist and social philosophy, the history of philosophy, and academic freedom. Shannon is the creator and author of the regular Dispatches on Academic Freedom column in University Affairs and regularly engages with the media on matters relating to academic freedom and freedom of speech.

Marieke de Goede is Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam and Professor of the Politics of Security Cultures. She is also a member of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and an Honorary Professor at Durham University, UK. De Goede’s research focuses on counter-terrorism and security practices in Europe, with a specific attention to the role of financial data. Between 2016 and 2022 she led the research project FOLLOW: Following the Money from Transaction to Trial.

Rens Bod is a professor of Digital Humanities and History of the Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. Among his books are A New History of the Humanities (OUP) and World of Patterns: A Global History of Knowledge (JHUP). Rens Bod is founder of WO-in-Actie, a Dutch action group striving for a democratic university with a proper balance between teaching and research. Together with Ingrid Robeyns and Remco Breuker, he wrote the pamphlet-book Forty Theses on Academia (in Dutch).

Eddie Brummelman (moderator) is an Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam, chair of The Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and principal investigator of KiDLAB. KiDLAB studies the developing self—the nature, origins, and consequences of children’s self-views.

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