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Reporter: BEA NOREEN C.

Course Professor: TERESITA Q. DIANO

Academic freedom - the freedom of teachers and students to teach, study, and pursue knowledge and research
without unreasonable interference or restriction from law, institutional regulations, or public pressure. Its basic
elements include the freedom of teachers to inquire into any subject that evokes their intellectual concern; to
present their findings to their students, colleagues, and others; to publish their data and conclusions without
control or censorship; and to teach in the manner they consider professionally appropriate. For students, the basic
elements include the freedom to study subjects that concern them and to form conclusions for themselves and
express their opinions.
 Teachers are freer within than outside their disciplines. The more highly trained teachers are, the more
freedom they are likely afforded: university professors tend to be less restricted than elementary-school
 Academic freedom is never unlimited. The general laws of society, including those concerning obscenity,
pornography, and libel, apply also to academic discourse and publication.
 Similarly, students usually gain freedom as they move through the academic system. Teachers in small towns
can usually expect more interference in their teaching than teachers in large cities.

“As a right to be enjoyed by the institution itself, academic freedom meant the university’s right to determine
for itself, solely on academic grounds, who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who
may be admitted to study…” -Prof. Randy David

The Purpose of Academic Freedom -the justification for academic freedom thus defined lies not in the comfort
or convenience of teachers and students but in the benefits to society; i.e., the long-term interests of a society
are best served when the educational process leads to the advancement of knowledge, and knowledge is best
advanced when inquiry is free from restraints by the state, by the church or other institutions, or by special-
interest groups.

Historical Backgrounds
 The foundation for academic freedom was laid by the medieval European universities, the universities
became legally self-governing corporations with the freedom to organize their own faculties, control
admissions, and establish standards for graduation.
 In the 18th and 19th centuries the newly emerged nation-states of Europe constituted the chief threat to
universities’ autonomy. Professors were subject to governmental authority and were liable to be allowed to
teach only what was acceptable to the government in power.
Some states permitted or encouraged academic freedom and set an example for subsequent emulation.
 The University of Göttingen in Germany became a beacon of academic freedom in the 18th century, and,
with the founding of the University of Berlin in 1811, the basic principles of Lehrfreiheit (“freedom to teach”)
and Lernfreiheit (“freedom to learn”) were firmly established and became the model that inspired
universities elsewhere throughout Europe and the Americas.
Academic Freedom in the Philippines
“Academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning,” says Section 5(2) of Article XIV
(“Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports”) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Philippine jurisprudence and courts of law, including the Philippine Supreme Court tend to reflexively defer to
the institutional autonomy of higher institutions of learning in determining academic decisions with respect to
the outcomes of individual cases filed in the courts regarding the abuse of Academic Freedom by professors,
despite the individual merits or demerits of any cases
Specific Cases
 The University of the Philippines at Diliman affair where controversy erupted after Professor Gerardo A.
Agulto of the College of Business Administration was sued by MBA graduate student Chanda R. Shahani for
a nominal amount in damages for failing him several times in the Strategic Management portion of the
Comprehensive Examination. Agulto refused to give a detailed basis for his grades and instead invoked
Academic Freedom while Shahani argued in court that Academic Freedom could not be invoked without a
rational basis in grading a student.
 The Bassett Affair at Duke University in North Carolina in the early 20th century was an important event in
the history of academic freedom. In October 1903, Professor John Spencer Bassett publicly praised Booker
T. Washington and drew attention to the racism and white supremacist behavior of the Democratic Party,
to the disgust of powerful white Southerners. Many media reports castigated Bassett, and many major
newspapers published opinion pieces attacking him and demanding his termination. On December 1, 1903,
the entire faculty of the college threatened to resign en masse if the board gave into political pressures and
asked Bassett to resign. President Teddy Roosevelt later praised Bassett for his willingness to express the
truth as he saw it.
Course Professor: TERESITA Q. DIANO