What Swedes don’t understand about academic freedom

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A journalist from the local paper, Sydsvenskan, just contacted me. Apparently he reads my blog. Well, good for him.  He wanted to talk to me on the phone, but I don’t have a phone. I asked him to put his questions online. My answers below.


Hi back.
I would have liked to talk to you in person, if possible, but this is what I’m wondering about.
Could you send me the reading list, the link doesn’t seem to work.
Strange. The link should work. Well, it’s here: http://ringmar.net/lundakurser/index.php/det-moderna-samhallet-och-dess-kritiker/ You continue by clicking on the tab called “seminarier.”
Where is the rule of thumb regarding a 40% quota for women and who decided on it?
I don’t actually know. I only know about it from what the Director of Studies of my department has told me.
Is the course still given? When did it start?
It started on October 11 and continues until November 10.
What do you generally think of the idea of quotas for male/female authors on a reading list?

I am against all interference with our teaching. Intellectual activity, such as a course, is not guided by democratic principles but by intellectual. Nothing on a reading list should be motivated by a quota but instead by intellectual criteria, that is, in term’s of the logic and goals of the course. It is the duly accredited teacher who is responsible for the logic and the goals. This is one of the fundamental aspect of academic freedom and it is taken for granted in the rest of the world, but not in Sweden. Germans call it Lernfreiheit. Unesco has taken resolutions about this, which the Swedes have signed, but obviously without understanding any of it.

I taught at one of the best universities in Great Britain for 12 years and there it was obvious that it was the teacher responsible who made decisions regarding reading lists. This is the only way to avoid interference and harassment. This is also the only way to guarantee independence and freedom of inquiry. At Lund University, academic integrity is not safeguarded, hence the problems I experienced. I had more academic freedom when I taught in China (I gave lectures on independence for Tibet and Taiwan and about those small islands in the South China Sea which probably don’t belong to China).


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