Establishment of IPSA Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Freedom

Establishment of IPSA Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Freedom

Posted by: Mr. Mathieu St-Laurent

Publication date: Wed, 09 Nov 2016

To follow up on the pledge IPSA President Ilter Turan made before the IPSA Council at the Poznan IPSA World Congress of Political Science, we are pleased to announce the establishment of an ad hoc committee to monitor violations of academic freedom held by political scientists around the world.

The information provided by this committee would constitute the basis upon which IPSA would shape and implement its policy on academic freedom and violations thereof.

With the help of national associations, committee members will monitor violations of academic freedom, with special attention on political scientists in their respective regions. They will draft reports in as much detail as possible and forward them to the chair of the committee. The chair of the IPSA committee will then search for further information (i.e., the facts and the nature of violation), confirming that a violation has occurred and that it constitutes a violation of academic freedom before deciding on a course of action. The final report will then be tabled before the IPSA Executive Committee, which will determine the course of action.

Please remember the following:

a) IPSA does not take positions on substantive issues or engage in actions that could be construed as interference in the domestic affairs of a country;

b) Our focus is limited to redressing violations of academic freedoms held by scholars, and not broader questions of democracy and human rights in a country. This is not to say that we are not concerned about these questions as individuals, scholars or human beings; simply put, it means we are a professional organization with a specific set of goals and responsibilities, and we will continue to respect those boundaries. Two sets of behaviours will be deemed clear violations of academic freedom:

 i) Banning the study or teaching of certain subjects; impeding the actual research process or teaching of those subjects; interfering with the writing and publicizing of research findings and/or their incorporation into teaching materials; and banning speakers or the organization of academic conferences on specific subjects;

ii) Penalizing academics who have expressed their ideas as citizens by terminating their employment or taking other measures to impose deprivations on their professional life.

c) In working to encourage respect for academic freedom, we are guided by the following considerations:

i) Our actions should not lead to the application of further sanctions on those whose rights have been violated;

ii) The safety and security of those who have helped identify violations, establish facts etc. should not be compromised;

iii) Our actions should be oriented towards achieving results rather criticizing governments that violate academic freedom. As an example, it is better to use calm rather than confrontational language in communicating our viewpoints and concerns.

In accordance with these guidelines, if you would like to see IPSA encourage governments to uphold the academic freedom of political scientists, particularly in your country, we encourage you to contact your national association. Reports must contain sufficient and accurate information, with as much detail as possible. Your national association will then decide if it wishes to proceed and follow up with the IPSA committee on academic freedom.

Let’s work together to help our colleagues around the world who need our support to fully enjoy their academic freedom.