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Academic Freedom

Protecting Academic Freedom:  Freedom to Teach and Research for Faculty and Quality for Students

General Outlines


"Academic Freedom and Higher Education Employees" December 2007 (, 1.1 MB, 8pp)
This report focuses on academic freedom challenges that higher education faculty and academic professionals are facing. State legislatures have considered a series of measures that would have seriously impaired academic freedom. Read this research brief for more information about NEA policy on academic freedom, Supreme Court cases, model contract language, and state legislative threats.

Legal Issues Concerning Academic Freedom(, 44 KB, 8pp)
Read about the core principles of law that define and limit the right to academic freedom. You'll find summaries of specific legal actions and suggested model language for collective bargaining in this document.

Model Contract Language (, 81 KB, 24pp)
This document focuses on contract language relevant to academic freedom. Using NEA's Higher Education Contract Analysis System (HECAS), a selection of contracts from various states, 2 and 4 year institutions and employee groups were analyzed for model bargaining agreement language.

Academic Freedom Presentation (, 607 KB, 30pp)
View this presentation for a look at the history of academic freedom, recent threats to academic freedom, and NEA's role in protecting academic freedom.

Specific Situations


College of DuPage (IL) Board of Trustees Restore Academic Freedom
In April, the outgoing Board of Trustees of the College of DuPage adopted a controversial new policy loosely based on the so-called “Academic Bill of Rights.” This policy seriously threatens academic freedom at the college. Both the full-time tenured/tenure track and the contingent faculty are represented by collective bargaining units affiliated with the Illinois Education Association and the National Education Association. In March NCHE President Jim Rice had written to the Board (see March 18, 2009 letter) urging them not to do so. Since then a new Board has been elected. On May 4, 2009 NCHE President Jim Rice and AAUP General Secretary Gary Rhoades wrote a joint letter to the new Board (see May 4, 2009 letter) asking them to rescind the previous decision.

NEA and PSEA Leaders Testify on Threats to Free Exchange of Ideas
Read the testimony of President Kathy Sproles (, 51 KB, 11pp) of the National Council for Higher Education, President Jane Munley (, 21 KB, 2pp) of the Pennsylvania Association of Higher Education, and PSEA-Student Program member Jessica Sabol (, 18 KB, 2pp), who testified on behalf of NEA and PSEA at the final hearing held by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Select Committee on Student Academic Freedom.

South Dakota Defeats Attack on Academic Freedom
Members of our higher education affiliate in South Dakota, the Council of Higher Education, lobbied their legislators to successfully defeat the South Dakota House Bill 1222.