, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 5-25,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 Apr 2006

Academic Freedom in Higher Education Within a Conservative Sociopolitical Culture


This paper examines the potential threat that a conservative sociopolitical culture poses to academic freedom in state colleges and universities. Already a number of states are considering legislation that would restrict professors’ rights to discuss political issues within their classes, especially political issues having religious or moral implications. The proposed legislation would permit professors to discuss political issues substantively linked to the official subject matter of courses, but would limit professors’ role in such discussion to one of political neutrality. The paper addresses the possibility of discussing controversial sociopolitical issues in college and university classes without alienating an institution’s external support base.

Robert L. Williams holds the M.A. in Counseling and Guidance and the Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the George Peabody College for Teachers. He is Professor of Educational Psychology and Counseling with primary affiliation in the School Psychology Program at the University of Tennessee. His current research relates to the improvement of instruction in higher education and includes the areas of critical thinking, notetaking, multiple-choice testing, vocabulary development, students’ information sources, and student motivation.