Although currently under attack from several directions, academic freedom is as important as it has ever been in enabling academics to teach, to carry out research, and to offer disinterested criticism and advice. Michiel Horn's new book accentuates the changing nature of academic freedom in English Canada and provides essential background to today's discussions. Based on extensive archival research in more than twenty universities across Canada and in six public archives, the book locates the idea of academic freedom in its institutional and social contexts and traces its conflict-ridden evolution from 1860 to the present. Providing detailed coverage and analysis, Academic Freedom in Canada exposes previously unpublished information on why selected academics were dismissed or forced to resign, and on how pressure was used, often successfully, to silence others.
As well as focusing on individuals such as Frank Underhill (University of Toronto), George Hunter (University of Alberta), and Harry Crowe (United College, Winnipeg), the book covers issues including the resistance in universities to Darwinist thought; the influences of modern Biblical criticism, capitalism, and war on academic freedom; the experience of women and ethnic minorities; and the question of whether or not academics should be allowed to run for public office. One chapter addresses the contentious issue of tenure. Michiel Horn also identifies and analyses the challenges that have faced academic freedom in more recent years, most notably those of the economy and of 'political correctness'. He shows how the seeds of today's changing demands on universities can be found in the vicissitudes of the past, and contends that Canadian academics owe it to their fellow citizens to use their freedom for the common good.