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3.3.13 Academic Freedom

Education and the freedom of inquiry are two of the cornerstones of a free society. For a nation to uphold the principles of liberty and freedom of conscience, it must foster an environment in which intellectual freedom, open debate, and a diversity of positions are actively valued. Public universities of the state, supported as they are by public monies, have a particular obligation to ensure that no ecclesiastical, proprietary, governmental, ideological, or other position is made a prerequisite of employment, admissions, attendance, or participation in the intellectual community, nor made the basis for dismissal there from. A "market place" of ideas and a strong educational system must exist for our democracy to survive.

Academic freedom is a right that has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court to be embodied in the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. This right has been found to apply to faculty and to institutions of higher education.

The Illinois State University Constitution states that "When acting on curriculum, instruction, faculty appointment, salary, promotion and tenure procedures, academic freedom issues, faculty ethics and grievance procedures, the Board [of Trustees of Illinois State University] shall receive and ordinarily follow the advice of the Academic Senate as recommended to it by the President." This policy has been created to elaborate upon and make more fully accessible those statements.


Academic freedom is the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write without institutional discipline or restraint on matters of public concern as well as on matters related to professional duties, the functioning of the University, and University positions and policies.

Academic responsibility implies the faithful performance of professional duties and obligations, the recognition of the demands of the scholarly enterprise, and the candor to make it clear that when one is speaking on matters of public interest, one is not speaking for the institution.


Academic freedom applies to all members of the campus community who teach higher education courses and conduct research, as well as to faculty when they participate in shared governance or speak on matters of university policy. All faculty enjoy the rights, privileges and responsibilities of academic freedom, regardless of whether they are tenured, tenure track, or non-tenure track. When performing these duties, they must act ethically.

In the case of Faculty Associates at the University's Laboratory Schools, academic freedom in their classrooms may be limited if the school administrators have legitimate pedagogical concerns, and depending on the nature of the curriculum being covered and the maturity of the P-12 students whom they are instructing.

The Illinois State University Constitution addresses the relationship of academic freedom to its students. In article II, section 1, it states: "Among the goals of the University are the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of its members, and improvement of the general well-being of society. Academic freedom in the form of freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression is indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth.... Student freedom to learn and faculty freedom to teach are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The freedom to learn depends upon appropriate opportunities and conditions in the classroom, on campus, and in the larger community. University students are expected to exercise their freedom with responsibility, but the responsibility to secure and respect students' freedom to learn is shared by all members of the University community."

Employees who perform duties that may be vital for the preservation of academic freedom on campus have academic freedom rights similar to those of students and faculty. University librarians share the professional concerns of faculty members. All librarians, whether they are faculty of any rank (non-tenure track, tenure track, or tenured) or Administrative/Professional employees, are free to select and make available any materials supporting the teaching, research, and general learning functions of the academic community, and to speak and write on matters of public concern, on matters related to professional duties, on the functioning of the University, and on University positions and policies as they relate to the library collections. The University recognizes the unique role that an academic library plays in safeguarding the freedom of inquiry on campus, and in the broader society, and it recognizes the right of librarians to speak freely on matters pertaining to the academic freedom of the faculty, non-faculty teachers and researchers, and students of the University.

Internal and External standards and references

Our values are based on those inherent in the Illinois State University Constitution, in language and philosophy developed by the AAUP, and in Educating Illinois.

Initiating Body:  Academic Senate

Contact:  Academic Senate, 438-8735

Created:  4/2013

2022-04-21T08:39:54.338-07:00 2022