Response to the American Academy of Religion’s Statement on Academic Freedom, Part 2

academic freedom statementRecently, the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion released a draft update to its 2006 statement on Academic Freedom and the Teaching of Religion and solicited feedback from members. Given that the members of Culture on the Edge are all scholars of religion, some have opted to offer their feedback to the AAR via this short series of posts on our site. (An index to all the posts in this series can be found here)

Merinda Simmons

The AAR Statement on Academic Freedom reads as rhetorically and intellectually scattered at best. The terms it leaves undefined (like “responsible”, “unsettling”, “sensitive”, along with a host of others) are not done any favors by the contradictory passages that directly undercut each other. Take, for instance, a couple of sentences early on in the Research section: “Researchers have the right to follow lines of inquiry where they lead but also the responsibility to exercise care, recognizing that our discoveries may have implications for the self-understanding and well being of students, colleagues, and members of the public. Criticism should not impede judicious critical scholarship, and our shared commitment to free inquiry means that scholars must be free from intimidation and free to form conclusions on the basis of shared scholarly norms, as understood by qualified peers.” Continue reading “Response to the American Academy of Religion’s Statement on Academic Freedom, Part 2”