Skip to Main Content

Academic Freedom

This guide is designed to provide basic information about the concept of Academic Freedom and resources for further information.

Books on Academic Freedom


Selection of Books on Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom at American Universities: Constitutional Rights, Professional Norms, and Contractual Duties.

by Philip Lee

Summary:  Lee argues that the dominant constitutional analysis of academic freedom is insufficient to protect the full range of academic freedom interests that have emerged over time. As an alternative to an exclusively First Amendment foundation for this freedom, it proposes for a contract-law-based conception specifically for professors.  


What is Academic Freedom?: A Century of Debate, 1915-Present.

by Daniel Gordon

Summary: This book explores the history of the debate, from 1915 to the present, about the meaning of academic freedom, particularly as concerns political activism on the college campus. The book introduces readers to the origins of the modern research university in the United States, the professionalization of the role of the university teacher, and the rise of alternative conceptions of academic freedom challenging the professional model and radicalizing the image of the university. The book will appeal to readers across the social sciences and humanities with interests in scholarly freedom and academic life. 

Who's afraid of academic freedom?

by Akeel Bilgrami & Jonathan R. Cole

Summary:  In these seventeen essays, distinguished senior scholars discuss the conceptual issues surrounding the idea of freedom of inquiry and scrutinize a variety of obstacles to such inquiry that they have encountered in their personal and professional experience. Their discussion of threats to freedom traverses a wide disciplinary and institutional, political and economic range covering specific restrictions linked to speech codes, the interests of donors, institutional review board licensing, political pressure groups, and government policy as well as phenomena of high generality such as intellectual orthodoxy in which coercion is barely visible and often self-imposed.

 Academic freedom : the global challenge.

edited by Michael Ignatieff, Stefan Roch

Summary: This book on the topic of academic freedom seeks to clarify our understanding of what academic freedom is, why it is under attack, from without and from within, and what needs to be done to reform and revive an ideal which is central to democratic freedom itself.

No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom.

by Cary Nelson

Summary:  The modern university is sustained by academic freedom; it guarantees higher education's independence, its quality, and its success in educating students. The need to uphold those values would seem obvious. Yet the university is presently under siege from all corners; workers are being exploited with paltry salaries for full-time work, politics and profit rather than intellectual freedom govern decision-making, and professors are being monitored for the topics they teach. No University Is an Island offers a comprehensive account of the social, political, and cultural forces undermining academic freedom.