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This content is taken from the University of Oslo & Scholars at Risk's online course, Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Your university has a long-term, large, research and student exchange programme with a university in another country. Hundreds of students and dozens of academics take part in the programme each year.

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds A professor of political science at a different university in the same country, writes and teaches courses on corruption and its impact on national identity and development. This topic is directly related to the professor’s professional expertise. The same professor also gives interviews on public television in that country and abroad. The same professor of political science is fired and prosecuted for his writing, classroom discussions, and interviews on corruption. If convicted, he faces years of imprisonment and loss of his academic career. Academic staff and students at your home university consider the firing and prosecution of the professor a clear violation of academic freedom. They organise protests on campus and demand action from leadership.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds Some demand the university push for the release and rehiring of the professor and to cancel the international programme. Others urge caution and dialogue with your partners. Others say no response is required because the professor who was fired was not part of your partner university. Your leadership team meets to decide what response is appropriate, if any.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds Your university is a large, regional institution that receives government funding. Many events are held on campus every week, some open to the public, some only to the university community. Events are organised by students, academics, and by the administration. Still others are organised by third parties from outside the university who rent university facilities. After a journalism student shares her research project with classmates by posting the paper online, students discuss discrimination on campus via social media. Later, a small group of students organise a public talk on campus, featuring a controversial speaker.

Skip to 2 minutes and 42 seconds When the same speaker spoke at other universities, violent protests sometimes happened. After the announcement of the invitation spreads via social media, other students and members of the university community protest the invitation and demand that the administration cancel the event. They also plan protests intended to disrupt the event to prevent the speaker from being heard.

Skip to 3 minutes and 9 seconds Academic staff and students at your home university consider the invitation of the outside speaker a threat to the values of the university and harmful to students, especially minority students. Others argue that cancelling the event would undermine academic freedom or freedom of expression. Parents, donors, and others outside the campus fear unrest and damage to property or harm to individuals if the event proceeds. Your leadership team meets to decide what response is appropriate, if any.

Case examples

The video above includes two animated case examples that can be used to help you practice the stakeholder/partnership and incident assessments discussed in this course.

For each animated example, how would you assess the stakeholders involved? The partnerships?

How would you assess the incidents described?

You may want to refer to the attached stakeholder/partnership and incident assessment tools.

In the next step, we will talk about how to use your assessments when you decide how to respond to incidents like these.

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This video is from the free online course:

Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters

University of Oslo

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