1939 February 6

Einstein, Other Academic Leaders Call for Freedom in Teaching


The famed scientist Albert Einstein and other intellectual leaders called for greater protections of scientific inquiry and the freedom to teach. The group, organized as the Lincoln’s Birthday Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom, prepared a statement that was released on this day. Einstein called for united collective action by scientists in their roles as citizens to protect intellectual freedom. Professor Walter B. Cannon, president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), suggested that educators ally themselves with the ACLU to fight racial and religious bigotry.

The statement by Einstein and his colleagues was prompted in large part by the repression of freedom to teach, and the purge of Jewish faculty, in Nazi Germany. Another response to Nazi repression of the freedom to teach and learn was the Library Bill of Rights, first developed by the Des Moines Public Library on November 21, 1938. The American Library Association followed suit and adopted its Library Bill of Rights on June 19, 1939.

Learn more about the freedom to teach: http://www.aaup.org/report/freedom-to-teach

Learn about Banned Book Week here.

Learn more: Louis Menand, The Future of Academic Freedom (1996)

Watch a debate over academic freedom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCjuu6n6wqU

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