1940 November 7

Universities Agree to AAUP Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure


The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) had drafted its statement on academic freedom and tenure in 1915, but it had never been accepted by university administrators as official policy. On this day, AAUP reached an agreement with the Association of American Universities (AAU) to make the statement a binding policy. The Statement, often referred to informally as “the Red Book,” has been the governing document on academic freedom and tenure in higher education ever since.

During World War I, many universities fired professors because they opposed the war or proclaimed themselves to be pacifists. One of the most famous controversies occurred at Columbia University, when the university fired two professors because of their anti-war views (see October 1, 1917). During the Cold War, a number of faculty members were fired because they were communists or took the Fifth Amendment before investigating committees when asked whether they were communists.

The Statement (excerpt): “Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of the student to freedom in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights.”

Read the full statement: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/1940statement.htm/

Go to the AAUP web site: http://www.aaup.org

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

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