Academic freedom is essential to democracy

Academic freedom is essential to democracy Patrick Blessinger and Hans de Wit St. John's University (NYC), International HETL Association, and Boston College Since the inception of the first universities nearly a thousand years ago, the freedom to pursue intellectual inquiry has served as a core value for professors, students and educational institutions. Freedom of inquiry became more important during the Renaissance and Reformation periods as well as the Scientific Revolution because of their focus on freedom of thought and critical inquiry. Following these periods of dramatic change, freedom of inquiry took on greater importance as universities transitioned from scholasticism, which emphasised dialectic reasoning as the main pedagogical approach, to humanism, which emphasised critical thinking and empirical observation.  Since higher education is, by definition, an environment where new knowledge is produced and consumed, it follows that the freedom to engage in intellectual inquiry is essential to the purpose of higher education, to the mission of higher education institutions and to [...]