Academic Freedom
Simpson (Tom)
Source: Jubilee Centre; Cambridge Papers: Towards a Biblical Mind, Vol. 19.4, Decemer 2010
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Brief Comments
  1. This is basically a secular piece by a fairly conservative muscular Christian that has been topped and tailed with Christian bits that would hardly have been necessary had institutional Christianity not been so much against academic freedom, and following the truth where it goes, through most of its history.
  2. The closing section doesn’t make a good parallel between non-conformists in the past and Christians in the present.
    1. In the past, the non-conformists were a diverse collection of zealots, many of whom were Unitarians or worse (from an orthodox Christian perspective). They also included many very able individuals.
    2. Relatively few of today’s Christians are either zealots or at the forefront of anything.
    3. So, it’s difficult to see anything much coming of their setting up a parallel academic system.
  3. It was interesting to see Peter Tatchell elevated from bogeyman to fellow traveller. Your enemy’s enemy is your friend, even when he’s your enemy.
  4. Otherwise, the article says many sensible things, pointing out many present evils, though it’s unclear whether these are transient or not.
  5. Tenure is a method of securing the independence of aristocrats for those without independent means. No doubt this is more important in some academic disciplines than others.
  6. Separation of teaching from research has many advocates, but many researchers claim to learn a lot from their students, and having to explain things more simply. Also, teaching without researching implies that there’s a static body of knowledge to be passed on, as in the middle ages.


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