Backlash against academic freedom

Date: 17 August 2021
Concern for academic freedom is currently voiced both from the political left and the right. Efforts from right wing populists to restrict critical scholarship — including what is branded as “gender ideology”– are on the rise, and the pandemic has provided golden opportunities for autocrats to clamp down on public intellectuals.
At the same time, demands from the left for “deplatforming” of scholars who are perceived to be racist, neo-colonial, homophobic, anti-trans or climate denialists are becoming more widespread, sparking accusations of censorship and “cancel culture”. This panel discusses challenges to academic freedom, asking how we as universities should navigate a terrain where scientific knowledge is increasingly politicised — and what we can do to countering autocratization. Do we need to rethink the way we teach? What do we know about effects of our courses on democratic norms and attitudes?
The panel is chaired by Malcolm Langford (Professor of Law, Univ. of Oslo and LawTransform co-director) and includes Thomas M. Keck (Syracuse University), Conrado Hubner Mendes (Professor of Law, University of Sao Paulo), Gökhan Sen (Professor of Law & Senior Researcher at CMI), Sudhir Krishnaswamy (Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India University) tbc* as panelists.
This session reflects the LawTransform RCN/DIKU projects “Rethinking Democracy and Law” and “Autocratization Dynamics”.