Vol 3, No 1 (2017)

Free to think, free to research: challenges to academic freedom in the context of contemporary global politics

The free flow of ideas is crucial to ensure the advancement of knowledge. Recent events, quite different in nature and coming from various parts of the world, have displayed the extent to which higher education communities and facilities are under attack. The quality and accessibility of academic work and instruction are being challenged at different latitudes: they are threatened by social and political instability of conflict and post-conflict zones as well as endangered, or at least conditioned, by emerging legislation on counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization. To a lesser extent, several contemporary trends in the politics and policy of higher education are questioning the scholar’s freedom to choose topics and methods of investigation also in established democracies. Reforms inspired by the new public management approach, whose intended aim is to promote public accountability of state funded institutions, are often blamed to have discouraged or punished the adoption of unconventional approaches and perspectives.

In the context of illiberal regimes, university institutions and personnel are targeted with the purpose of intimidating or silencing those speaking uncomfortable truths, while university campuses and colleges are increasingly exposed to police surveillance and militarization. Against this background, different forms of transnational solidarity and academic cosmopolitanism have mobilized to contest, resist and subvert the above-mentioned trends. Associations of peers have been involved in boycott actions and invoked the idea of “sanctuary universities”, while international organisations have proposed initiatives and instruments to monitor and protect academic freedom and protect it through legal doctrines such as the “duty of care” and the “responsibility to protect”.  In the context of liberal democracies the principle of free inquiry is not directly threatened, but it can be hollowed out in more subtle ways. Examples include designing public funding scheme which set “research priorities” to incentivize certain fields at the expense of others; the implementation of research assessments incentivizing some type of publications; or the hyper-competitiveness of the academic labour market. What is the impact of these recent trends on the way in which academics decide the content and methodology of their research activities?

The Special Issue seeks contributions tracing and examining one or more of the topics (non-exhaustively) exemplified above. As the Special Issue will inaugurate a new season and editorship of the journal InterDisciplinary Political Studies, we consider important to offer a self-reflexive space about where we - as researchers - stand: our role, our condition and our contribution to the international society.

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Free to think, free to research: challenges to academic freedom in the context of contemporary global politics Details     pdf
IdPS Editors 7-10

Research Articles

Do Universities Have a Duty of Care Towards Their Employees and Students when They Travel Abroad on University Business? A Critical Analysis of the State-of-the-Art and the Relevant Practice Details     pdf
Andrea de Guttry, Francesca Capone 11-39

Free Research in Fearful Times: Conceptualizing an Index to Monitor Academic Freedom Details     pdf
Jannis Grimm, Ilyas Saliba 41-75

Negotiating Unfreedom: An (Auto-) Ethnography of Life at the Forefront of Academic Knowledge Production Details     pdf
Philipp Lottholz 77-107

An Overview of Academic Freedom in Turkey: Re-Thinking Theory and Praxis Details     pdf
Sevgi Dogan 109-144

Threats to Academic Freedom in Venezuela: Legislative Im-positions and Patterns of Discrimination Towards University Teachers and Students Details     pdf
Mayda Gabriela Hocevar, David Augusto Gomez, Nelson Jose Rivas 145-169

Escape from Freedom? The Russian Academic Community and the Problem of Academic Rights and Freedoms Details     pdf
Dmitry Dubrovskiy 171-199

Research Notes

Researching the Chechen diaspora in Europe Details     pdf
Marat Iliyasov 201-218

Book Reviews

Through a Glass Darkly: The Social Sciences Look at the Neoliberal University, edited by Margaret Thornton. Acton: Australian National University Press, 2014, pp. 334. Details     pdf
Adriano Cozzolino 219-222

Organizational Transformation and Scientific Change: The Impact of Institutional Restructuring on Universities and Intellectual Innovation (Research in the Sociology of Organiza-tions, 42), ed. by: R. Whitley and J. Gläser.Bingley: Emerald, 2014, pp. 406. Details     pdf
Teele Tõnismann 223-226

The Capitalist University. The Transformations of Higher Education in the United States since 1945, by Henry Heller. London: Pluto Press, 2016, pp. 252. Details     pdf
Jesse Hembruff 227-230

From Class to Identity: The Politics of Education Reform in Former Yugoslavia, by Jana Bacevic. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2014, pp. 235. Details     pdf
Ervjola Selenica 231-235

University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex, by Henry A. Giroux. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2007, pp. 223. Details     pdf
Maria Giovanna Sessa 237-239

Academic Identities in Higher Education: The Changing European Landscape, edited by Linda Evans and Jon Nixon. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015, pp. 276. Details     pdf
Sokol Lleshi 241-244

Who’s afraid of academic freedom?, edited by Akeel Bilgrami and Jonathan R. Cole. New York - Chichester: Columbia University Press, 2015, pp. 428. Details     pdf
Elisa Piras 245-248

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