Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity

Confronting the Fear of Knowledge

  • Joanna Williams

Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vi
  2. Introduction

    1. Joanna Williams
      Pages 1-21
  3. Academic Freedom Then and Now

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 23-23
    2. Joanna Williams
      Pages 25-55
    3. Joanna Williams
      Pages 56-80
  4. Knowledge in the Disciplines

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 81-81
    2. Joanna Williams
      Pages 83-109
    3. Joanna Williams
      Pages 110-127
  5. Beyond Criticism

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 129-129
    2. Joanna Williams
      Pages 131-155
    3. Joanna Williams
      Pages 156-174
    4. Joanna Williams
      Pages 175-194
    5. Joanna Williams
      Pages 195-198
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 199-217

About this book


Academic freedom is increasingly being threatened by a stifling culture of conformity in higher education that is restricting individual academics, the freedom of academic thought and the progress of knowledge – the very foundations upon which academia and universities are built.

Once, scholars demanded academic freedom to critique existing knowledge and to pursue new truths. Today, while fondness for the rhetoric of academic freedom remains, it is increasingly criticised as an outdated and elitist concept by students and lecturers alike and called into question by a number of political and intellectual trends such as feminism, critical theory and identity politics.

This provocative and compelling book traces the demise of academic freedom within the context of changing ideas about the purpose of the university and the nature of knowledge. The book argues that a challenge to this culture of conformity and censorship and a defence of academic free speech are needed for critique to be possible and for the intellectual project of evaluating existing knowledge and proposing new knowledge to be meaningful. This book is that challenge and a passionate call to arms for the power of academic thought today.


Freedom Knowledge Conformity Censorship Criticism Free Speech Academic Freedom Universities Higher Education critical theory education freedom higher education Professor university

Authors and affiliations

  • Joanna Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KentUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-51478-3
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-51479-0
  • Buy this book on publisher's site