Academic Freedom Event: Open for Business: on What Terms

2:00 p.m. May 13, 2021

Please register in advance.

Over a century ago, Thorsten Veblen (1918) warned that the intrusion of business principles in Universities would weaken the pursuit of learning, resulting in a digression of interest and support from scholarly achievements to the competitive acquisition of wealth. With chronic underfunding, Universities, look to collaborative research funds from industry, government and the private sector. Funds that bring in badly needed revenue. While these arrangements cannot be described as intrinsically good nor bad, in a 2013 CAUT report, Jim Turk, suggests the fundamental question we need to ask ourselves as academics is whether the university, in agreeing to the terms of these funds, protects the integrity of the institution and of the work of faculty, or whether it sacrifices that integrity.

Keynote speaker for this year’s event is Dr. Emily Eaton. Dr. Eaton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Regina. Her research examines the influence of the fossil fuels sector in Saskatchewan and analyses how Saskatchewan could undergo a just transition to a post-carbon economy. Some of the findings of her research are documented on the website Dr. Eaton’s research put her in direct conflict with the University of Regina when they declined to follow orders of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to release information about financial contributions for oil and gas research on the Regina campus. Dr. Eaton’s fight was recently highlighted in the CAUT Bulletin.

Joining Dr. Eaton will be Mr. David Robinson, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers and Dr. James L. Turk distinguished visiting scholar in the Faculty of Communication & Design and director of the Centre for Free Expression and author of Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Free Speech Rights in the University (2014).

Academic freedom is a right we cannot take for granted. We need to exercise it and defend it. Whether through using social media to express our expert opinions on issues such as COVID-19 and the pandemic or publishing controversial findings, academic freedom in teaching, scholarship and research is essential to society. 

Please join us at this important event. 

Susan Fowler-Kerry
Chair of Academic Freedom Event