Henry Reichman Argues the Future of Academic Freedom Is Up To UsHistorians in the News
tags: books, academic freedom, Henry Reichman
Does academic freedom have a future? Nobody has a crystal ball. But as former vice president of the American Association of University Professors and longtime chair of its committee on academic freedom and tenure, Henry Reichman is particularly well suited to ponder the question. Reichman, professor emeritus of history at California State University at East Bay, spends 275 pages doing so in his new book, The Future of Academic Freedom (Johns Hopkins University Press).
The highly digestible book includes 10 essays on topics from social media to outside donor influence on colleges and universities, from unions to recent student protests over campus speech. (Spoiler: Reichman believes that the critical reaction to these protests is overblown.) Each section could stand alone. But Reichman says he hopes that they “convey a basic unified argument: that academic freedom is threatened today from multiple directions and that challenges to it are central to the present crisis in higher education.”
These issues merit faculty attention, Reichman argues, and the “time for engagement is now.” Still, The Future of Academic Freedom -- whether read in parts or as a whole -- eschews the doomsday mood of some similar books. Reichman’s tone is somehow hopeful, as if he’s arming advocates with the history, knowledge and tools they need to fight the good fight -- not just for the future of academic freedom but for higher education in general.
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