Free to think, free to research: challenges to academic freedom in the context of contemporary global politics
Editors: Alessandra Russo & Federico Russo
The free flow of ideas is crucial to ensure the advancement of knowledge. Recent events, quite different in nature and coming from various parts of the world, have displayed the extent to which higher education communities and facilities are under attack. The quality and accessibility of academic work and instruction are being challenged at different latitudes: they are threatened by social and political instability of conflict and post-conflict zones as well as endangered, or at least conditioned, by emerging legislation on counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization. To a lesser extent, several contemporary trends in the politics and policy of higher education are questioning the scholar’s freedom to choose topics and methods of investigation also in established democracies. Reforms inspired by the new public management approach, whose intended aim is to promote public accountability of state funded institutions, are often blamed to have discouraged or punished the adoption of unconventional approaches and perspectives.
In the context of illiberal regimes, university institutions and personnel are targeted with the purpose of intimidating or silencing those speaking uncomfortable truths, while university campuses and colleges are increasingly exposed to police surveillance and militarization. Against this background, different forms of transnational solidarity and academic cosmopolitanism have mobilized to contest, resist and subvert the above-mentioned trends. Associations of peers have been involved in boycott actions and invoked the idea of “sanctuary universities”, while international organisations have proposed initiatives and instruments to monitor and protect academic freedom and protect it through legal doctrines such as the “duty of care” and the “responsibility to protect”. In the context of liberal democracies the principle of free inquiry is not directly threatened, but it can be hollowed out in more subtle ways. Examples include designing public funding scheme which set “research priorities” to incentivize certain fields at the expense of others; the implementation of research assessments incentivizing some type of publications; or the hyper-competitiveness of the academic labour market. Even some policies undertaken by publishers (for example a recent regulation on Data Access and Research Transparency) may affect the developments of certain disciplines. What is the impact of these recent trends on the way in which academics conduct their research activities? How their decisions on the content and the methodology of the research are influenced?
The Special Issue seeks contributions tracing and examining one or more of the topics (non-exhaustively) exemplified above. As the Special Issue will inaugurate a new season and editorship of the journal Interdisciplinary Political Studies, we consider important to offer a self-reflexive space about where we - as researchers - stand: our role, our condition and our contribution to the international society. We welcome conceptual/theoretical as well as empirical papers, addressing the topic through comparative lenses or single case studies, using quantitative and qualitative approaches.
Inter-disciplinary Political Studies, Volume 3 Issue 1 (2017)
Instructions to Authors
Articles should be sent to the editors (email@example.com). Please refer to the author’s guidelines for manuscript preparation.
Alessandra Russo, Sciences Po Bordeaux (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Federico Russo, Università del Salento (email@example.com).
Nelli Babayan (Transatlantic Academy, USA)
Frank R. Baumgartner (University of North Carolina, USA)
Stefano Braghiroli (University of Tartu, Estonia)
Manuela Caiani (Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy)
Michele Carducci (Università del Salento, Italy)
Maurizio Cotta (Università di Siena, Italy)
Daniele De Luca (Università del Salento, Italy)
Caroline Dufy (Sciences Po Bordeaux, France)
J. Andrew Grant (Queen's University, Canada)
Christoffer Green-Pedersen (University of Aahrus, Denmark)
Ruth Hanau Santini (Università di Napoli L’Orientale, Italy)
Stephanie Hofmann (Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland)
Cristina Leston-Bandeira (University of Leeds, UK)
David Lewis (University of Exeter, UK)
Sonia Lucarelli (Università di Bologna, Italy)
Catherine Moury (New University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Thomas Saalfeld (University of Bamberg, Germany)
Francesco Strazzari (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy)