April 2023

Apr 28, 2023 | Monthly Newsletter

April Update from the Academic Freedom Alliance

As we near the end of the spring semester, the AFA is hard at work defending faculty under fire for protected speech. We are actively supporting the legal funding of five new cases and exploring getting involved in others. In addition to our legal defense work, here are other updates from April. 

Spotlight on Harvard

This month, the AFA helped spotlight the launch of the brand new Council on Academic Freedom at Harvard (CAFH), a membership organization open to all Harvard faculty who support free inquiry, intellectual diversity, and civil discourse. Founded this month, the CAFH plans to organize workshops, invite lecturers, and teach courses related to academic freedom. When necessary, it will hold the university accountable to its stated principles and provide solidarity with Harvard scholars who are threatened with penalty because of their speech. 

CAFH counts multiple AFA members among its leadership, including Jeffrey Flier, Jeannie Suk Gersen, Jane Kamensky, and Steven Pinker.

New Paper Defending Merit in Science

Today, a group of 29 scientists, 13 of whom are AFA members, published a peer-reviewed paper shedding light on the ongoing attempt in the sciences to replace merit with an identitarian ideology. This ideology, whereby theories are judged less on merit and more on identity politics, is enforced by “Diversion, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) officers and bureaucracies, which have become entrenched throughout academia.

The article was published in The Journal of Controversial Ideas, as is explained by two of the paper’s co-authors (and AFA members), Jerry Coyne and Anna Krylov, in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal

In addition to Coyne and Krylov, AFA members who co-authored the report include Dorian Abbott, April Bleske-Rechek, Carlos Carvalho, Svetlana Jitomirskaya, Lee Jussim, John McWhorter, Luana Maroja, Judea Pearl, Mikhail Shifman, Bernhardt L. Trout, and Arieh Warshel.

Upcoming Debate on Florida’s Higher Education Policies

The AFA is co-sponsoring a livestream debate hosted by the Cornell Free Speech Alliance next Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30pm ET.  The event will feature a debate between the AFA’s Keith Whittington and the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo about Florida’s proposed higher education reforms. 

While some see Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ reforms as an effort to return public education to its traditional instructional practices and away from progressive political goals, other observers see the Florida educational reform efforts as violating, rather than upholding, academic freedom on campus. To view the debate live, please register here

Expanding Membership

We continue to accept new members on a rolling basis. As always, please send any nominations to AFA Director of Operations Howard Muncy at hmuncy@academicfreedom.org.

Learn More About the Academic Freedom Alliance

No one, at any academic institution, should fear suppression or retaliation for speaking out publicly in any form. We encourage you to join the movement in supporting the flourishing of intellectual life and the pursuit of knowledge and truth at institutions of higher learning.