Academic freedom is a core value for universities and central to an understanding of how research should be conducted. It is often taken for granted. But in recent years, it has become an increasingly contested area. There is much concern about the state of academic freedom in UK universities, so much so that the UK government is seeking to legislate in order to strengthen the protections for academic freedom. Is it right to do so? Is academic freedom really under threat?
Chair: Prof Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Director, Middle East Study Centre (MESC), School of Politics and International Studies and DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. Professor Cohen-Almagor is a prolific researcher with more than 300 publications to his name, including 19 books. He is a Professor of Politics, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull, and a Global Fellow, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA) and Nirma University (India). He was twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor, the Faculty of Laws, University College London.
Prof Dennis Hayes is a Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham and an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Derby. He is the director of the influential campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF). He is the author of several books on education, including two edited books on the McDonaldisation of Higher Education. His controversial co-authored book The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education (2019 ) has been described as ‘one of the most important books to have been written in at least the last twenty years in that crucial area where philosophy, policy and practice coincide’. His latest book, The Death of Academic Freedom? Routledge will publish free speech and censorship on campus in early 2023. Twitter: @ProfDHayes
Dr Vanessa Pupavac is a senior lecturer at the University of Nottingham. Her previous publications include a book on Language Rights: From Free Speech to Linguistic Governance (2012). Her current research involves the translation of the leading twentieth-century Croatian and Yugoslav writer Miroslav Krleža’s drama.
Dr David Schley is the Deputy Director, Sense about Science and is passionate about evidence-based policy and decision-making; and engaged with Sense about Science as a researcher, scientist and communicator for many years before joining as Deputy-Director in 2022. Having previously worked to develop the evidence base for policy decisions, he now seeks to ensure science and evidence are used appropriately in public life and that people are empowered with knowledge, leading campaigns and communications for the organisation. David lectured at the University of Southampton, the University of Surrey and the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and has been a school teacher and provider of vocational training for journalists. His research portfolio includes modelling and epidemiology at Southampton Hospital and the Pirbright Institute. He has delivered high-impact advocacy campaigns, including for Challenging Heights, a prominent child-rights NGO in Ghana, and led communications of research and science for the MS Society and the Marine Stewardship Council. He has a PhD in Mathematics and is a Fellow of the IMA, a chartered Scientist, a Chartered Mathematician, and CIPR accredited PR Practitioner.
Prof Colin Tyler is Professor of Social and Political Thought and the Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Business, Law and Politics at Hull University. Much of his research focuses on the preconditions for a free society, particularly its need for a shared understanding of the common good. In relation to this research, Colin is also the Institute of Applied Ethics director and co-convenor of its “Free Society” research programme.
Dr Catherine Wynn is a Reader in Victorian and Early Twentieth-Century Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Hull. She specialises in Victorian and post-nineteenth century literature and visual culture, focusing on Gothic, war art, Victorian theatre, travel writing, and colony and empire. Catherine has published monographs on Bram Stoker (supported by the British Academy) and Arthur Conan Doyle and a biography of Lady Butler, Victorian Britain’s leading war artist. She is also a regular contributor to television and radio programmes.