Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsA professor of political science discusses corruption and its impact on national identity and development. Because the topic is related to the professor's professional expertise, this would generally be considered an example of conduct protected by both the traditional and socially engaged views of academic freedom.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 secondsA professor of political science discusses corruption and its impact on national identity and development on a popular television news programme. The topic was related to the professor's professional expertise. According to a socially engaged view of academic freedom, this conduct would generally be protected. However, according to the traditional view of academic freedom, this conduct may not be protected because it is outside the university and aimed at a general audience. Under both definitions, this conduct would be protected by general free expression.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 secondsA professor of political science participates in a public political march against corruption. Assuming the professor is participating as a regular citizen, and not as a professor, this would generally be considered an example of conduct protected by general free expression, not academic freedom. Whether the professor's conduct demonstrates open or closed expression depends on the professor's openness to changing his views based on evidence and persuasion. A professor of political science participating in a public political march against corruption joins, a small group of protesters in throwing rocks at official buildings, causing property damage and endangering the safety of individuals.

Skip to 1 minute and 46 secondsThis would generally be considered an example of violent conduct that is not protected by academic freedom or general free expression principles, regardless of the expressive message the rock throwing is intended to convey.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 secondsA student in a journalism class turns in a research project that examines the treatment of ethnic and religious minority students on campus. Because the topic is directly related to the student's coursework, this will generally be considered an example of conduct protected by both the traditional and socially engaged use of academic freedom.

Skip to 2 minutes and 30 secondsThe same journalism student shares her research project with classmates by posting the paper online. Links to the paper are shared via social media, which triggers a lot of online discussions about discrimination on campus and in the wider society. Because the student was sharing research related to her coursework, the student's conduct would generally be protected by the socially engaged view of academic freedom. However because it is outside the classroom, and aimed at a general audience, this conduct might not be considered protected by the traditional review of academic freedom, although it will still be protected by general free expression.

Skip to 3 minutes and 17 secondsThe same student participates in a public political march against discrimination in society. Assuming the student is participating as a regular citizen, and not as a student leader or representative, this will generally be considered an example of conduct protected by free expression, not academic freedom. Whether the student's conduct demonstrates open or closed expression depends on the student's openness to change her views based on evidence and persuasion.

Skip to 3 minutes and 51 secondsThe same student participating in the public political march against discrimination joins a small group of students who block the entrance to the university, using violence to prevent anyone from entering. This ultimately forces authorities to close the university for a prolonged period of time to avoid harm to other students. This would generally be considered an example of violent conduct that is not protected by academic freedom or general free expression principles.

Examples of lines and line drawing

The examples in the animation show how different views of academic freedom result in drawing different lines between types of conduct or expression.

While watching the animation, you may want to refer to the line-drawing infographic linked at the bottom of this page. Can you see how the different examples in the animation fit into different columns in the infographic?

Do you agree with the lines being drawn?

Why? Why not?

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Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters

University of Oslo

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