Academic Freedom & Responsibility

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents Policy on Academic Freedom and Responsibility defines academic freedom as "the freedom, without institutional discipline or restraint, to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to professional duties and the functioning of the University."  It further states that academic responsibility "implies the faithful performance of professional duties and obligations, the recognition of the demands of the scholarly enterprise, and the candor to make it clear that when one is speaking on matters of public interest, one is not speaking for the institution" .

The University's Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court case Garcetti v. Ceballos and local controversy over the showing of the film Troubled Waters, released a White Paper in December 2011, which clarifies the nature and scope of academic freedom and responsibility at the University.  In particular, it notes that the protections defined by the Regents policy "extend to all University employees who engage in scholarly work."

Interested parties may find the policy statements and reports of the American Association of University Professors informative, particularly the 1940 Statement on Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Graduate and professional students and postdocs who have concerns about academic freedom and responsibility – particularly in relation to their academic studies or work – are advised to address these concerns where they arise whenever possible.  They may wish to discuss the issues with the parties involved or with an appropriate third party, such as the academic advisor, director of graduate studies, or department chair. Students and postdocs may wish to consult with the Graduate School (Karen Starry, starry@umn.edu) for information or to connect with other University support services.