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The strength of academic freedom has always depended upon historical circumstances. In the United States, higher education began with institutions founded and controlled by religious sects. The notion of who gets educated and to what ends expanded as American democracy expanded. By the 1980's, legitimate calls for equality became a general debunking of the culture of 'dead white males' and higher education became highly politicized as multiculturalism came to dominate. The ethics of multiculturalism and academic freedom, however, have often come into conflict, with professors and students being accused of racism in lectures or discussions about race. Closely related to multiculturalism, in terms of academic freedom, is the notion of political correctness, or the adoption of official terminology deemed inoffensive to victim groups, which has had a tremendous effect on the classroom environment and led to censorship of speech. New laws to control computer communication and the Internet also seek to censor ideas and speech and do not always distinguish between originators of material and media used to transmit them. Finally, academic tenure, one of the key protectors of academic freedom, has also come under attack as lacking accountability, although tenured faculty are needed to protect the integrity of the academy against managers who may only see the bottom line. Contains 19 references. (BCY)

Descriptors: Academic Freedom, Affirmative Action, Censorship, Cultural Pluralism, Freedom of Speech, Higher Education, Internet, Political Correctness, Politics of Education

Autor: Tobin, Brian G.


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