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Freedom to Think, Freedom to Speak! Why UK Universities must Change Course

As the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill makes its way through Parliament, institutions across this country continue to crackdown on the freedoms which allow scholarship and debate, teaching and learning to flourish.

On Wednesday 21st December (12.30pm – 1.30pm), Politeia will hold a lunchtime conference to consider the wider question and its context, the problems it continues to pose to academic freedom and the potential solutions. Speakers will include:

  • Professor Arif Ahmed MBE, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, Nicholas Sallnow-Smith Lecturer in Philosophy, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College
  • Professor Nigel Biggar CBE, Emeritus Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford
  • Professor John Marenbon FBA, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
  • Baroness Lawlor (Dr Sheila Lawlor), Founder and Research Director, Politeia – to introduce and chair.

Speakers will consider the role of academic freedom in allowing Britain’s institutions to lead the world in teaching and research in the humanities and sciences and such questions as:

  • Why does academic freedom matter, and how has it been undermined?
  • What role do university authorities play in promoting or preventing academics’ freedom?
  • Does the law accommodate professional freedom, including the option of teaching courses that reflect specialist research, knowledge and experience?
  • Will the proposals in the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech Bill) help restore the balance in favour of freedoms where they are threatened.
  • Are other changes needed to redress the balance?