The Global Forum on Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy, and the Future of Democracy convened in Strasbourg, France June 20-21, producing a declaration outlining the responsibilities of higher education on these topics and providing specific calls to action. ACE Senior Vice President Philip Rogers moderated a forum discussion that shaped the declaration.
Rogers is on the steering committee for the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy. ACE Board member Jonathan Alger, president of James Madison University, also presented at the Forum. His panel provided examples and challenges of academic freedom and institutional autonomy.
The declaration crafted by the conference participants contains 11 items, a sampling of which include:
- Education, including higher education, is responsible for advancing and disseminating knowledge and developing ethical and able citizens.
- Higher education can only fulfil its mission if faculty, staff, and students enjoy academic freedom and institutions are autonomous.
- Significant violations of academic freedom and institutional autonomy threaten democracy.
Calls to action are directed towards members of the academic community, higher education institutions and their leaders, public authorities, international organizations, and other partners. For example, the academic community is called on to “orient their research, learning, and teaching toward developing knowledge and understanding based on facts and science and interpreting these in a spirit of open mindedness and respect for differences of views, backgrounds, and tradition.” Read the full declaration here.
The Global Forum was held at the Council of Europe headquarters and co-hosted by the Council of Europe; the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy; the Organization of American States; the Magna Charta Observatory; and the International Association of Universities. Nearly 150 presidents and other higher education leaders from the United States, Europe, and elsewhere attended the event.