Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge (Palgrave Critical University Studies)

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9781137514783: Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge (Palgrave Critical University Studies)
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Academic freedom is increasingly being threatened by a stifling culture of conformity in higher education that is restricting individual academics, the freedom of academic thought and the progress of knowledge – the very foundations upon which academia and universities are built.

Once, scholars demanded academic freedom to critique existing knowledge and to pursue new truths. Today, while fondness for the rhetoric of academic freedom remains, it is increasingly criticised as an outdated and elitist concept by students and lecturers alike and called into question by a number of political and intellectual trends such as feminism, critical theory and identity politics.

This provocative and compelling book traces the demise of academic freedom within the context of changing ideas about the purpose of the university and the nature of knowledge. The book argues that a challenge to this culture of conformity and censorship and a defence of academic free speech are needed for critique to be possible and for the intellectual project of evaluating existing knowledge and proposing new knowledge to be meaningful. This book is that challenge and a passionate call to arms for the power of academic thought today.

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About the Author:

Joanna Williams is Director of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Kent, UK and Education Editor for Spiked Online. She has previously published Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can't be Bought.

Review:

“Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity is tightly written and is clearly referenced ... . Williams takes us on a journey through the history of the academy and the parallel history of academic freedom. ... Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity is a must-read for every thoughtful person.” (Edward Dutton, The Quarterly Review. quarterly-review.org, May, 2017)

“Joanna Williams, in her powerful study, argues that academic freedom has become at best a second-order value in our universities. ... Any academic who fails to read Williams’ book will remain an unreflective conformist or, to put it another way, will not be an academic.” (Dennis Hayes, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 67 (2), April, 2017)

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