Academic Freedom and Responsibility*

This statement summarizes the understanding between the faculty and administration of Berea College on the principles and practices of academic freedom at this institution. Although both faculty and administration recognize the value of these principles, it is important to state the nature of the policies and the specific arrangements by which they are implemented. By having known principles and practices on these matters, the welfare of the entire College is promoted and safe-guarded.

* The substance and the wording of this statement are drawn in part from the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, developed by the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors.

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is essential to quality education. It promotes strength in the educational program and protects faculty members in their responsibilities. All the constituent groups of the College share concern for the protection of academic freedom.

Freedom in Teaching

The faculty member is expected to be in sympathy with the aims of the College which should be stated clearly in writing at the time of appointment. The faculty member is entitled to freedom in the classroom and should be supported by the College administration and colleagues in its exercise. Academic freedom, however, carries with it duties correlative with rights. In exercising freedom in discussion of the subject matter, the faculty member should be careful not to introduce controversial matter which has no relation to the subject. This should not be narrowly construed, but the faculty member has a responsibility to the entire College community to refrain from habitually substituting extraneous materials for the proper subject matter of the course.

Freedom of Research

This freedom is fundamental to the advancement of truth. The faculty member is entitled to full freedom in ordering and recommending library materials, presenting a variety of perspectives, and in research and in the publication of the results. Such research and publications should not detract from the adequate performance of one’s other academic duties. Research for pecuniary return should be based on a written agreement with the administrative authority of the College.

Freedom as a Citizen

The faculty member is a citizen, a member of a learned profession, and a member of an educational institution. The faculty member enjoys the Constitutional rights which belong equally to all citizens. When the faculty member speaks or writes as a citizen, one should be free from institutional censorship or discipline. But professional membership in the community imposes special obligations. As a person of learning and as a member of a college faculty, one should remember that the public may judge the institution by one’s utterance. Hence the faculty member should at all times seek accuracy, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for others, and indicate that faculty member is not an institutional spokesperson.

Scope of Academic Freedom

Academic freedom, as described above, applies to all teaching faculty, whether they are tenured, on probationary appointment, or under special agreement.

Academic Freedom for Students

The student is entitled to academic freedom in learning. Faculty members should recognize the student’s right to free speech in the classroom and the right to disagree.