Statement of Academic Freedom

Dear WGSRF Community,

As members of the Executive Committee of Canada’s Women's and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes, we write to express our deep concern over the ongoing and unprecedented attacks on the academic freedom of feminist scholars in the name of “freedom of speech.”

In agreement with the Canadian Association for University Teacher’s 2011 Policy Statement on Academic Freedom, we believe that “post-secondary educational institutions serve the common good of society through searching for, and disseminating, knowledge and understanding and through fostering independent thinking and expression in academic staff and students. Robust democracies require no less. These ends cannot be achieved without academic freedom.”

As such, we unequivocally believe that “academic freedom is fundamental to the mandate of universities to pursue truth, educate students and disseminate knowledge and understanding. In teaching, academic freedom is fundamental to the protection of the rights of the teacher to teach and of the student to learn. In research and scholarship, it is critical to advancing knowledge. Academic freedom includes the right to freely communicate knowledge and the results of research and scholarship” (Universities Canada, Statement on Academic Freedom). It is therefore imperative to make it be known widely that academic freedom includes “the right, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom to teach and discuss; freedom to carry out research and disseminate and publish the results thereof; freedom to produce and perform creative works; freedom to express one's opinion about the institution, its administration, and the system in which one works; freedom to acquire, preserve, and provide access to documentary material in all formats. Academic freedom does not require neutrality on the part of the individual” (CAUT, “Academic Freedom” 2017)

Women's and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes Executive Committee stands in solidarity with all those who continue to teach and speak out on university and college campuses in an increasingly chilly climate where boundaries of academic freedom are marked at the intersection of so-called “freedom of speech.” 



WGSRF Executive