Academic Freedom and Intellectual Diversity Forum

AFID: a Study Group for Academic Freedom and Intellectual Diversity

This section of my professional site is designed especially for students. It is the only section of this site controlled by a membership requirement. I’ve added this section to serve as a safe place for students to hash over questions relating to two related and sensitive issues they want/need to explore but for which there are few open forums for their participation: policies and procedures surrounding tenure and promotion and questions of academic freedom and intellectual diversity.

Because students my students have recently been dealing first-hand with a case of the possible corruption of the ideals of intellectual diversity, and because in my courses in rhetoric, composition, sociolinguistics, and postmodern theory all address to one degree or another the history of English studies and the professionalization of the various fields of study within language studies, I have decided to create a space for students to have an ongoing dialogue about the issues they began considering in my classrooms, in real-time and with live material.

Tenure and promotion processes and academic freedom are crucial elements of the self government of our profession. Our students require spaces within which they can discuss these issues without fear of censure.

The students who are members of this forum are discussing issues central to the liberal arts education. However, these topics are sensitive, especially given the rise in nationalism since 9/11 and the subsequent backlash against intellectual diversity such as ACTA’s (American Council of Trustees and Alumni) recent censuring of faculty who allegedly make unpatriotic statements, Stanley Kurtz’s recent attacks on postcolonial theory, and the presentation of a version of the Academic Bill of Rights (as conceived by conservative columnist David Horowitz) to the U.S. House of Representatives. For a very good sense of the sort of thinking and discussion we’ll be doing in this area, have a look at M. Karen Powers’ and Catherine Chaput’s recent article in CCC (58:4 / June 2007, 648-681), “Anti-American Studies” in the Deep South: Dissenting Rhetorics, the Practice of Democracy, and Academic Freedom in Wartime Universities.

If you’d like to be a member of this forum set aside for student discussion of these issues, please apply for membership by using the “create new account” function on the following page.