Academic Freedom In the Age of Social Media


by Kevin Currie-Knight


David Labaree (Professor Emeritus, Stanford University) and I talk about the history and meaning of academic freedom. We discuss whether there ever has been a “golden age” where academics were safe to be heterodox (no), and what academic freedom means in an age of social media and the in-group policing it fosters.

00:00:32​ – David’s Life as a (Newly) Retired Academic and Kevin’s Life as a Grinding Academic 00:04:49​ – The European Origins of (and the Reasons Behind) Academic Freedom 11:14:58 – Academic Tenure Comes About at Stanford University 00:19:32​ – Academic Conformity and Why David is Concerned About Two Types of Academics 00:34:29​ – A Tension Between Academic Freedom and University Brand-Consciousness 00:44:25​ – When Academics Tweet 00:52:56​ – Should We Redesign a More Robust Academic Freedom? Can We?


  1. This discussion especially his description of collecting merits and demerits and the importance in the community is concerning. It seems in a peer system merits will be more about who you know than what you know. Perhaps the double blind system of peer review could be an answer. I am not sure how workable or common that is.

    I also wonder why so many universities are going for the woke brand. Wouldn’t some universities benefit from having a brand that resists wokeness? It seems the population generally are not so enthralled with having these woke views forced on us. Is there something distorting the market?

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