Academic freedom: an ultra-modern principle with old roots

  • Li Bennich-Bjorkman University of Uppsala (Sweden)
Keywords: Academic freedom, creativity, collegial rule, managerialism, university


There is a growing incapacity to understand the major institutional principle that made the research university into such a revolutionary success, firstly in Prussia and in Germany, later in the United States: academic freedom. Far from being a simple formula to be carried out without afterthought, academic freedom is a value, a practical instrument and a legal principle that has to be understood in relation to creativity. In this article, academic freedom and its importance for creativity in research (and teaching) is analyzed from three fundamental vantage points, firstly in terms of what academic freedom is, secondly how it works in practice and thirdly by looking at why academic freedom is so crucial to creativity. It concludes by reflecting on why it is that while the research universities that have worked under the principles of academic freedom have been extremely successful, those who today develop research policies and even university leaders are striving to dismantle the one precondition that makes all the difference, namely academic freedom.

Author Biography

Li Bennich-Bjorkman, University of Uppsala (Sweden)

Professor at Department of Government and Johan Skytte professor in eloquence and political science. Member of Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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How to Cite
Bennich-Bjorkman, L. (2016). Academic freedom: an ultra-modern principle with old roots. Filosofiya Osvity. Philosophy of Education, 18(1), 125-135.


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