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Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters

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

4,300 enrolled on this course

Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $44Find out more

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 seconds Did 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 scholars 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 seconds We will talk about how you can promote academic freedom. And we want to know, what are your dangerous questions?

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    What is academic freedom?

    • Dangerous questions

      Are there questions that are too dangerous to ask?

    • Lines and line-drawing

      What are the limits of academic freedom? And who decides?

  • Week 2

    Threats to academic freedom and impacts on society

    • Introduction to Week 2

      A short summary of learning objectives and what content to expect.

    • Consequences

      Exploring the types and consequences of restrictions on academic freedom

    • Types and sources of threats to academic freedom

      What are the types and sources of threats to academic freedom?

    • Why does it matter? Impact of threats to academic freedom on society

      Discussing the importance of academic freedom

  • Week 3

    How you can help promote academic freedom

    • Introduction to Week 3

      Welcome to Week 3. Olga and Rob will introduce the topics of the week.

    • Be proactive: Putting pro-values practices in place

      Putting pro-values practices in place will help institutions enjoy the full benefits of core values, including higher quality research and teaching, a more inclusive community, and meaningful engagement with the broader public.

    • Be thoughtful: Assessing values incidents when they arise

      You can help promote academic freedom by encouraging carefully assessments of values incidents when they arise, including assessing the full range of stakeholders, partnership interests, victims and harms or risks involved.

    • Be responsible: Responding to values incidents

      You can help promote academic freedom by encouraging responsible reactions to values incidents, including avoiding binary "all-or-nothing" choices between overreaction and doing nothing.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • 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?

Dr. Olga S. Hünler is an Academy in Exile fellow in Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

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.

Dr. Chelsea Blackburn Cohen is Senior Program Officer at Scholars at Risk, where she works with colleges, universities, and associations to promote academic freedom and core higher education values.

Promoted by

promoted by

UNICA

promoted by

The University of Ljubljana logo

promoted by

Al-Fanar Media

promoted by

University World News

Who developed the course?

University of Oslo

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

Scholars at Risk

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

Supporters

supported by

Erasmus+

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