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Celebrating and nurturing academic freedom. Presenting the report ‘Academic Freedom, a Leiden Line’

Monday 17 June 2024
Faculty Club

The report Academic Freedom, a Leiden Line will be presented on 17 June.

What does academic freedom mean today, and what can the university and academic community do to nurture it? This is just one of the questions recently considered by the Academic Freedom Core Team. Through a series of conversations and dialogues, the team has arrived at recommendations for a ‘Leiden line’ on academic freedom. The team will present its report to Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl (who commissioned it) on 17 June.

University Council Chair Pauline Vincenten, representatives from Leiden University Student Platform and Young Academy Leiden and Associate Professor Vasiliki Kosta will reflect on the report at the meeting. There will be time for a discussion with those present afterwards.

Date: 17 June 2024
Place: Faculty Club
Time: 15.00

Students and staff from Leiden University are welcome to attend. Use this link to register. Colleagues from other knowledge institutions and media are also invited to attend the presentation.

How the report came about

Almost two years ago, Hester Bijl commissioned the core team to seek answers to the following sub-questions:

  1. What does academic freedom mean for students and staff at Leiden University?
  2. How does our academic community experience academic freedom – or the lack of or limits to this?
  3. To what extent is academic freedom in Leiden under threat? By whom or what exactly?
  4. What best practices (‘Leiden line’) could the university encourage or develop to promote academic freedom?

The core team sought to answer these questions in a series of ‘2P conversations’ (conversations about principles and pain points), dialogues and meetings about academic freedom.

Contents of the report

The 2P conversations and dialogues provided insight into the importance of academic freedom and what people do or do not understand it to mean. They also showed that academic freedom is under threat in several parts of the university. Based on the findings, the core team has made three important recommendations that together form a ‘Leiden line’: a) foster a greater understanding of the term academic freedom; b) ensure academic freedom is an ongoing topic of discussion; c) proactively exercise academic freedom. We should celebrate academic freedom.

The core team consists of: Frits van der Meer, Sense Jan van der Molen, Jannemieke Ouwerkerk, Herman Paul and Martine de Vries.

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