Author: Sean Stevens

Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity

A review of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge by Joanna Williams. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan (2016), 217 pages. A new book by education professor Joanna Williams explores how changing ideas about the purpose of a university have altered the concept of academic freedom and provided a foundation for student censorship in the U.K. The book is called “Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge” and Williams was recently interviewed by Inside Higher Ed. In the interview Williams discusses her model of academic freedom as a “marketplace of ideas” where even the most controversial, contentious, and/or reprehensible views are given a public hearing: To me, the idea of placing some issues beyond discussion in a university — the very places that should be most suited for free and robust debate — is just bizarre.  This doesn’t mean I think all ideas are equally valid or equally deserving of a place on the curriculum. But I do think it is incumbent upon academics to …