Jeremy Adelman: Princeton historian a leader in movement to defend academic freedom

Historians in the News

Saying that they are fed up with “aggressive incursion of partisan politics into universities’ hiring and tenure practices,” five prominent academics have issued a call to “defend the university” and gathered dozens of backers in what they view as a new way to bolster academic freedom.

The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend the University has issued a statement and is asking professors and others to sign on.

“In recent years, universities across the country have been targeted by outside groups seeking to influence what is taught and who can teach. To achieve their political agendas, these groups have defamed scholars, pressured administrators, and tried to bypass or subvert established procedures of academic governance,” the statement says. “As a consequence, faculty have been denied jobs or tenure, and scholars have been denied public platforms from which to share their viewpoints. This violates an important principle of scholarship, the free exchange of ideas, subjecting them to ideological and political tests. These attacks threaten academic freedom and the core mission of institutions of higher education in a democratic society.”...

The organizers of the effort are Joan W. Scott, a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J., and former chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom; Jeremy Adelman, chair of history at Princeton University; Steve Caton, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University; Edmund Burke III, director of the Center for World History at the University of California at Santa Cruz; and Jonathan R. Cole, provost emeritus of Columbia University.

The statement comes at a time of a series of high profile hiring or tenure cases involving professors who work on the Middle East and whose work has been subject to scrutiny by many non-academics during the process they were under consideration. Among the cases are those of Norman Finkelstein, who was denied tenure at DePaul University; Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropologist up for tenure at Barnard College; and Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan who saw his candidacy for a job at Yale University derailed....
Read entire article at Inside Higher Ed

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