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Online course

Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters

Explore the meaning of academic freedom and how it relates to core higher education and societal values.

Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters

Challenge the limits to critical inquiry

Academic freedom is a fundamental value in modern higher education and research.

On this course, you’ll find out how we can use academic freedom to ask critical questions and contribute to a democratic society.

You’ll explore the importance of free and open research, and how it relates to core higher education and societal values.

You’ll understand why academic freedom is crucial for maintaining the quality and relevance of research in higher education.

You’ll learn about some of the current threats to academic freedom, and how this relates to the academic community worldwide.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsDid you ever have a question that you wanted to ask, but didn't because you were afraid of what might happen? Because you might be laughed at? Because someone might get angry? Scholars and students around the world ask questions-- questions about the environment, questions about health, questions about poverty and development, questions about justice, questions about truth. And the answers to those questions affect all of society. But sometimes, asking questions can be dangerous. Academic freedom protects the right to ask sensitive, even dangerous questions. Not just scholar's questions, but the freedom for you to think and ask questions that really matter. In this course, we'll ask what academic freedom is and why it matters, not only to scholars, but to all of us.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsWe will talk about how you can promote academic freedom. And we want to know, what are your dangerous questions?

What topics will you cover?

  • Traditional and socially engaged definitions of academic freedom
  • Academic freedom in relation to other core higher education values
  • The limits to what is covered by academic freedom
  • Threats to academic freedom in different settings
  • Consequences of threats to academic freedom
  • The importance of academic freedom to democratic societies
  • How you can contribute to strengthening core higher education values at your home institution and in partnerships
  • How you can assess and react to incidents relating to the core higher education values

When would you like to start?

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explain the meaning of academic freedom and related values and how these values interrelate
  • Identify challenges and threats to academic freedom in different contexts
  • Assess how academic freedom can be promoted and defended
  • Demonstrate the importance of academic freedom to the development of society

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for students and staff in higher education, but it will be relevant for anyone interested in asking critical questions.

Who will you learn with?

Olga Hunler

Dr. Olga S. Hünler is a Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellow hosted at Institut für Ethnologie und Kulturwissenschaft in Universität Bremen, Germany.

Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn is a human rights lawyer and Executive Director of the Scholars at Risk, an network of higher education institutions dedicated to protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom.

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Who developed the course?

Founded in 1811, the University of Oslo (UiO) is the highest ranked institution of education and research in Norway.

Scholars at Risk is an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom.

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