Academic Freedom Policy

It is Georgia Gwinnett College’s policy to publish academic freedom statement in all major policy documents that are used by the faculty, staff, and students.  GGC is committed to the protection of Academic Freedom by providing grievance procedures that can be used in causes of violation of Academic Freedom.  Grievance procedures can be found in section V of the Faculty Manual of Policies and Procedures.

Academic Freedom Statement

As a liberal arts college dedicated to the holistic development of students and to the production of graduates who can anticipate and respond effectively to the changing world, Georgia Gwinnett College affirms the vital role of diverse perspectives in helping students to develop their own knowledge and their ability to evaluate knowledge claims critically.  The administration, faculty, staff and students share responsibility for fostering a climate that is favorable to the free exchange of ideas and to the examination of conflicting ideas and interpretations using generally accepted disciplinary standards of inquiry. Freedom of speech and expression extends to all members of the academic community, subject to commonly accepted constitutional limits on speech that is libelous or slanderous, incites violence, or discriminates against or harasses others.

Academic freedom is essential to the integrity of intellectual inquiry and scholarly criticism, to the dissemination of knowledge, and to the search for truth and wisdom. It is the foundation upon which the all of the intellectual activity of the college rests. Faculty are free to pursue scholarly interests without fear of censure, discipline, or reprisal.  This freedom extends to the display, publication, and performance of creative work. Faculty may speak freely on all matters of college governance, and may speak, work, or act as an individual in the public arena without fear of institutional discipline or restraint.

A fundamental goal of liberal arts education is the development of students’ skills of analysis and critical inquiry.  To this end, faculty are free to teach and discuss any aspect of a given topic pertinent to the course being taught as a means of teaching students to explore and evaluate competing perspectives and interpretations as they learn to assemble their own informed judgments. Faculty have a concomitant responsibility to teach students to evaluate knowledge claims using standards of evidence accepted in their respective disciplines, and to promote respect for competing views offered by others. Students have the right to a safe classroom environment in which they can explore controversial ideas in an atmosphere characterized by openness, tolerance and civility, and where they will be graded only on the intellectual merits of their work.

The College has established formal grievance procedures for addressing claims of unfair academic treatment by any member of the campus community.

Our view of academic freedom incorporates the principles of academic freedom stated by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP, 1940) as follows:

1.     The teacher is entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of [his/her] other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

2.     The teacher is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing [his/her] subject, but [he/she] should be careful not to introduce into his/her teaching controversial matter which has no relation to his/her subject.  Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.

3.     The college or university teacher is a citizen, a member of a learned profession, and an officer of an educational institution.  When [he/she] speaks or writes as a citizen, [he/she] should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but [his/her] special position in the community imposes obligations.  As a person of learning and an educational officer, [he/she] should remember that the public may judge [his/her] profession and [his/her] institution by [his/her] utterances.  Hence [he/she] should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that [he/she] is not an institutional spokesperson.

The faculty also endorses the Statement on Academic Rights and Responsibilities published by the American Council on Education (2005).