Hemlock, on Tap
Ed Dutton endorses a brave and timely tome
Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, by Joanna Williams, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, PB., 217pp.
Like a dramatist building to a climax, Joanna Williams, education lecturer at the University of Kent and education editor for SpikedOnline, delays hitting you with her message. ‘Without academic freedom,’ she eventually asserts, ‘universities risk returning to the status of Medieval institutions, only rather than paying homage to the church, many scholars today choose to worship at the altar of liberal opinion’ (p.198). This is the disturbing conclusion of this book. Academia is becoming less ‘academic’ by the day, with trigger warnings on courses, safe spaces for students, an overwhelmingly anti-conservative academic body and the persecution of academic dissent.
Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity is tightly written and is clearly referenced (books are mentioned within the text). Williams takes us on a journey through the history of the academy and the parallel history of academic freedom. It is a sobering read and from the outset we see a conflict over how academic freedom should be defined. Continue reading