The principle of academic freedom is meant to ensure that teachers and professors can engage with teaching and studying in a scholarly manner without being fearful of retribution or censorship.
With the purpose of promoting free speech and academic freedom, International Academic Freedom Day offers a number of opportunities to get involved with raising a collective voice for this important part of free society!
History of International Academic Freedom Day
Academic freedom has an interesting history that has evolved throughout the years, making a distinct turn in the early 19th century through the inspiration of folks like Wilhelm von Humboldt from Berlin, Germany. Much of the motivation was that academics, and particularly science, deserve to be learned in a free environment where the information is not used politically or to further the goals of a totalitarian state.
Founded by the folks over at Academics for Academic Freedom (AFAF) in the UK, International Academic Freedom Day was established to encourage free thinking in academics. The day was chosen as the anniversary of the birth of author John Stuart Mill, who wrote On Liberty, which is an essential book dedicated to the protection of free thinking.
Today, International Academic Freedom Day is celebrated by a number of different organizations and educational institutions including universities and colleges as well as groups of teachers and others connected to the day. Even the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has made statements about the necessity of academic freedom, recognizing modern challenges that lie ahead.
It might be helpful to note that some groups have named February 12th as Academic Freedom Day while others have chosen to celebrate on October 5, coinciding with World Teachers Day.
How to Celebrate International Academic Freedom Day
Show support for the issues related to academic freedom and get involved with raising a voice about its necessity by joining in with some of these activities:
Read On Liberty
Even people who have read this book before, whether for a school assignment or on their own volition, may want to be reminded of the importance of freedom by re-visiting John Stuart Mill’s work, On Liberty, published in 1859. International Academic Freedom Day is an ideal time to re-engage with the principles that ensure freedom from political, economic and social tyranny.
Participate in Academic Freedom Day Events
Various colleges, universities and other educational support organizations may be hosting in-person or webinar events that encourage participation for those who want to learn more about the topic of academic freedom. International Academic Freedom Day is a great time to connect with others who feel strongly about this vital aspect of society to attend a lecture on a local campus, join an online webinar, observe a debate on the issues, or get involved in some other way locally.
Host an Academic Freedom Day Event
Teachers, schools and others connected with academic freedom might want to host an educational event in honor of International Academic Freedom Day. Or, on a smaller scale, perhaps it would be interesting to invite a few friends over for a dinner party to discuss and debate the concepts and principles involved.