Skip to main content

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is the right of post-secondary academic staff, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to use their best professional judgment in their teaching and research; to be able to disseminate the results of their research and scholarship; to acquire, preserve, and provide access to documentary material in all formats; to express their opinions about the institution in which they work; and to exercise their rights as citizens without institutional sanction or censorship.

Blog November 16, 2017

(Free) Speech on Campus

In the general public sphere, expression is subject to relatively few legal restrictions. Canadian law includes ‘content’ restrictions on obscenity, hate speech, defamation, and false advertising. There are also laws that regulate the time or location at which expression may occur and are concerned with coordinating expression with other activities in public spaces.
Blog November 9, 2017

University Speech Codes and the Wounds of White Fragility

(Co-written with Anver Emon, Professor of Law, University of Toronto) Everyone can get hurt. We are complex beings, with multiple attachments, and so we naturally are offended by insults, degrading comments, and uncivil speech. If such wounds hurt, should they be the subject of penalty or public censure? For intractable disputes, it is naïve to think that speech codes can serve to dampen, or even resolve, conflict.
Blog October 19, 2017

A Hailstorm of Censorship at UBC

It would be nice to think that free speech in Canada is in surpassingly good health, that it can resist attacks from authoritarians and ideologues, that censorship is unthinkable in all but the rarest of circumstances. It would be still nicer to believe that Canadian universities consistently provide the necessary conditions for free expression and free expression, artistic expression included. Unfortunately none of these beliefs is entirely true to fact.
News September 10, 2017

CFE Director James Turk Is Interviewed by CBC’s Michael Enright on Free Speech in Universities

Controversies about free speech have become increasingly common in universities in Canada and the United States. In an interview with CBC’s Michael Enright, the Centre for Free Expression’s Director James Turk explores the difficult issues that are proving so divisive, suggesting that attempts to suppress speech undermines the work of the university and the possibilities for a vibrant democracy, while putting minorities and marginalized peoples at risk.