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Academic Freedom Policy

Recommended By: The Academic Senate
Approved: Ruben Armiñana, President
Date of Issue: May 22, 2008
Effective Date: July 2, 2008
Contact Office: Academic Affairs
Policy # 2008-6

I. Policy

It is the policy of Sonoma State University to support an academic climate that protects academic freedom, academic responsibility, and the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, and learning through the free exchange and critique of ideas among all members of this community.

II. Concepts

Quality education requires a climate of academic freedom and academic responsibility. Sonoma State acknowledges and encourages the practice of academic freedom while recognizing that the concept of academic freedom is accompanied by a corresponding concept of responsibility to the University and its students.

A.  Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is the unrestricted search for knowledge and truth and its free exposition in the scholarly community. This is a special freedom necessary to the mission of the university. Academic freedom is vital to ensure the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of the faculty, educational officers, students, administrators, the institution, the academic community, and the public. All members of this community must be able, under the principles of academic freedom, to pursue knowledge and to express and defend their viewpoints in an atmosphere of mutual respect, as outlined in the SSU Statement on Collegiality.

Persons engaged in research, dissemination of knowledge, and student advisement and advocacy are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results. Any academic related and creative activity shall take place within the guidelines of SSU policies.

Faculty and Students are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, maintaining awareness of the relevance of their contribution to the course or to the mission of the university. Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry and requires good faith openness in assessment of a teacher’s or student’s intent to introduce controversial material in relation to their subject.

B. Responsibility

Professional responsibility is the logical correlative of academic freedom. As members of a profession possessing the right of self-government, the academic community has an obligation to define the rights and responsibilities necessary for research and teaching. All members of the academic community are responsible for conducting themselves in ways that will promote the achievement of the purposes for which academic freedom exists.

All members of this community shall be free from institutional censorship and retributive measures in response to exercising academic freedom. Scholars and educational officers shall attempt at all times and in good faith to be accurate, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and clarify that they are not speaking for the institution.

III. Implementation

The exercise of academic freedom is judged by the standards established by and in accordance with the expertise and authority of the faculty, in consultation with relevant university bodies, and consistent with established criteria.

Academic Freedom complaint procedures are located at: http://www.sonoma.edu/Senate/Documents.html


Updated 7/17/08 by SSU.policies@sonoma.edu