A map of self-censorship is being developed in higher education

A map of self-censorship is being developed in higher education

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June 26, 2023 | Students, lecturers and researchers will have the opportunity to share their experiences of self-censorship in higher education. Before the end of the year, Minister Dajgraf wants to clarify how and if action can be taken against self-censorship in higher education.

Technopolis, a science policy research agency, is currently running a program consultation As part of an exploratory study commissioned by the OCW. This investigation follows a movement from Hatte van der Woude (VVD). It found previous KNAW research on academic freedom unsatisfactory. In light of the increasing intimidation of scientists, Van der Woude wanted to use this research to obtain recommendations on how to ensure freedom of speech for students and the safety of scientists at all times.

VVD is getting impatient

Hattie van der Wood recently commented in the room in a rather annoyed tone that the investigation was taking too long. I assumed the investigation would be nearly complete, given the approved proposal dates back to November 2021.

The aim of this research by Technopolis is to determine the prevalence of self-censorship in higher education, its causes, the forms it takes, and what are the consequences of academic self-censorship in Dutch science and higher education.

and exchange experiences

In this open consultation, researchers, educators, and students will have the opportunity to share their personal experiences in hopes of emerging the most complete picture of self-regulation in higher education. Different target groups are asked whether they self-censored for fear of social exclusion or threats, and whether or not they chose to adapt their teaching or research for this reason for publication.

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Academic self-censorship is defined in this study as “the modification of behavior and expressions in teaching and research in response to (expected or perceived) external pressures.” Academic self-censorship often arises from the expected negative consequences of a lack of self-censorship. Some examples of self-censorship include avoiding certain topics in research due to polarization in society or coming out against accepted disciplinary theories, or not sharing certain findings under pressure from external stakeholders. This could include the wider public or the academic community.

Are class discussions avoided?

According to researchers at Technopolis, self-censorship can also occur in education when certain topics are not covered in the curriculum or certain teaching methods are avoided. It may also happen that certain topics are not studied in study assignments or during class discussions.

Lecturers, students and researchers are also asked about measures that can be taken against self-censorship.

The topic of academic freedom has once again captured a great deal of attention in the past year. For example, there was a case involving the Groningen researcher Susanne Tauber, who was fired because her research on masculine culture at the University of Groningen was not well received. There was also the case of Buijs, a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, who frequently hype and swears online about the restrictions on academic freedom in relation to the gender debate.

Carel Stolker completes the research

This landmark has now been discontinued with the intervention of the court. Currently, the former rector of Leiden University, Karel Stolker, is completing an investigation into alleged restrictions on academic freedom at the University of Amsterdam.

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Local broadcaster AT5 in Amsterdam also recently conducted research on academic freedom. from here turned out to be so Staff and students do not dare or are unwilling to speak publicly on this topic, because they fear “cancellation”.

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