David A. Hollinger: Says academic freedom is threatened

Historians in the News

Existing threats to academic freedom have been exacerbated by the political and economic climate following the terrorist attacks of September, 11, 2001, argued scholars at a conference held at New York University's new Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center at Tamiment Library on Thursday and Friday.

The conference, "Academic Freedom in an Age of Permanent Warfare," was the inaugural public event at the center, which was established at the university last year....

David A. Hollinger, a professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley [and new vice president of the OAH], saw particular problems for upholding academic freedom in public universities as a result of a fiscal arms race between those institutions and private universities. Disciplines that yield large grants and profits, located largely in the sciences, would gain in prestige and power over other areas of study. "There is a danger of a wedge being driven between scientists and humanists," said Mr. Hollinger.

In his view, that wedge is a dangerous one for academic freedom in general. "The defense of academic freedom needs to be broadly based," Mr. Hollinger argued. Divisions between disciplines, he continued, "make it harder to achieve solidarity across the lines. Scientists will have much less incentive to make common cause with humanists."...

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