Academic Freedom

Your Right to Academic Freedom

The common good of society is served through the work of university faculty in freely searching for, and disseminating, knowledge and understanding, and in fostering independent thinking and expression.  Academic Freedom is essential to this work.  Academic Freedom applies to the teaching function as well as to scholarship and research.  Faculty are entitled, regardless of prescribed doctrine, to freedom in designing and carrying out research and scholarship, and in disseminating the results thereof, freedom of teaching and of discussion, freedom to criticize the University and the Faculty Association, and freedom from institutional censorship.

The protection and promotion of Academic Freedom is a fundamental goal of the Mount Royal Faculty Association.  Although tenure is one important safeguard of Academic Freedom, this freedom nevertheless applies to all faculty, whether full-time, limited-term or contract academic staff.

Article 23 of the Collective Agreement establishes your contractual right to Academic Freedom by virtue of your employment of as a member of the academic staff at Mount Royal University.  This is an individual right that belongs to each faculty member.  If you have a concern about a potential infringement of your right to Academic Freedom, please contact the President of the Faculty Association.

Academic Freedom:

  • Includes the ability of individual faculty members to participate freely in discussion and debate, including with students, faculty colleagues, and other members of the University community, the academic/professional community, and the community more broadly;
  • Does not require neutrality on the part of the individual, but rather makes commitment possible; and
  • Entails the right to participate freely in collegial decision-making and governance processes.

Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for knowledge and understanding, and to recognize the rights of other members of the academic community.

Academic Freedom does not:

  • Convey the freedom to disregard legitimate decisions, including curricular decisions, made through legitimate collegial governance processes;
  • Convey the power to suppress the rights of others, or to engage in harassing, discriminatory, abusive or violent behaviour – rather, such behaviour violates the rights, including the academic freedom rights, of others;
  • Abrogate the Collective Agreement or the terms and conditions of employment contained therein, nor does it diminish the obligation to meet employment duties and responsibilities;
  • Convey legal immunity.

The Academic Freedom of individual faculty members is distinct from institutional autonomy, although these are mutually-supportive: the academic freedom rights of faculty help to foster institutional autonomy, whereas an institution that is subject to the undue influence of outside parties will be less –able to protect and foster the academic freedom of faculty.

MRFA Statements and Motions Related to Academic Freedom