The Academic Freedom Series: Facing Challenges and Reassuring Core Values of Universities

Openness Challenged: university at risk?

Academic freedom is under threat around the world, including Europe. Rising trends in illiberalism and authoritarianism threaten universities as institutions of open societies. Their autonomy as a condition to uphold academic freedom in teaching and research is weakened as a result of political, financial, and social pressures. How can universities resist these challenges? This requires to advance our understanding of academic freedom, and the trends and mechanisms that put it at risk. 
The Institutions for Open Societies (IOS) Platform Openness Challenged: University at Risk?  launches a series of dialogues to tackle these burning questions.

Dialogue 5: Defining, monitoring and protecting Academic Freedom: the Netherlands in European perspective

27 February 2024, Utrecht University 12.30-15.00            

In this opening dialogue of the series, we will dive into ongoing research on academic freedom.  How is it understood and defined throughout Europe? How well is it protected and what is changing in this respect? 
Various studies on the situation in Europe will be presented as a context for a country study on academic freedom in the Netherlands. The session will examine how to monitor trends and issues related to academic freedom, in order to ultimately reflect on the question how academic freedom can be defined and legally protected at the national and European levels. New research that will be undertaken by the Platform will be announced.

Speakers: Prof. Peter Maassen (Oslo University), Dr. Vasiliki Kosta (Leiden University), Dr. Lavinia Kortese (Utrecht University), Mr. Jurgen Rienks LLM (Ne-ther).
Convenor: Prof. Marijk van der Wende (Utrecht University). 

Dialogue 6: Academic Freedom & Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Date to be clarified, Utrecht University

The second dialogue examines the role of social media in relation to academic freedom as a democratic value and right.
Universities as core institutions of open societies wish to engage with society. Social media play a growing role in communicating research results to society at large. How can and should social media be used by academics? What are the boundaries and where do academic freedom and freedom of expression interfere? Social media is often described as the most dependence creating phenomenon in the (post-)modern society. How does this relate to the notion of freedom generally and to academic freedom in particular? Are they friends or foes?

Speakers: Prof. dr. Jose van Dijck (Utrecht University), Prof. Dr. Simone Buitendijk (former vice-chancellor University of Leeds), Prof. Dr. James Kennedy (Utrecht University) (t.b.c).
Convenor: Prof. Marijk van der Wende (Utrecht University).

Dialogue 7: Date to be clarified – Anchoring Academic Freedom in Turbulent Times: the EU in Global Perspective

The final dialogue in this series reprises on the first session which ended with the question how academic freedom can be defined and protected. Building on this perspective, we will focus on how academic freedom can best be protected in the Europe. What to expect from the EU as an internal regulator and global actor? What from national governments, state actors, and universities themselves? What is a suitable legal basis to this end and how can we ultimately uphold the values of openness and freedom as European universities engage with partners globally?