Academic Freedom

A. Purpose

This policy establishes the protection of freedom of inquiry, thought, expression, and publication as stated in the Faculty Handbook, and further emphasizes these principles with respect to research activities.

B. Revision history

Originally issued: March 2000

C. Persons affected

All Northwestern Health Sciences University faculty engaged in research activities.

D. Related research and policy publications

Rights and Responsibilities in the Conduct of Research

Secrecy in Research

E. Policy

Statement on academic freedom

It is fundamental to the health of an academic institution and ultimately to the health of a society at large that individual persons and groups of persons exercise their responsibility and freedom to search for the truth and to speak the truth as it is discovered. In a collegial community, the administration, faculty, and student body bear mutual responsibility to exercise professional competence and to extend to one another the trust and respect which foster an environment for the exercise of academic freedom.

Northwestern Health Sciences University endorses the principles of academic freedom. As a learned person each faculty member must recognize that people will judge both the profession and the institution by what is said in the classroom and in public. Northwestern Health Sciences University will honor the following specific statements on academic freedom and on profession ethics:

  • Faculty members are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the policies in the Research Policy Handbook and the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon prior approval by the Dean or Vice President of their division.
  • Faculty members are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but care should be taken in teaching controversial matter which has no relation to the subject. Faculty should present in their courses that which is described in the catalog and as approved by the administration and by the faculty in their collective responsibility for the curriculum.
  • University teachers and researchers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution.
  • When speaking or writing as citizens, faculty members should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations.
  • As persons of learning, research, and educational officers, faculty members should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence, faculty members should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they do not speak for the University.

Principles concerning research

The transmission of knowledge and conduct of research are central and complementary functions of Northwestern Health Sciences University. They can be carried out effectively only if individuals are guaranteed certain freedoms and accept corresponding responsibilities.

  • Individual researchers should be free to select the subject matter of their research.
  • Individual researchers should be free to seek support from any source for their work, and to form their own findings and conclusions.
  • These findings and conclusions should be available for scrutiny and criticism as required by the policy on Secrecy in Research.
  • Research techniques should not violate established professional ethics pertaining to the health, safety, privacy, and other personal rights of human beings.
  • Northwestern Health Sciences University should foster an environment conducive to research.
  • Where, because of limited resources, the University cannot support all research demands, it should allocate space, facilities, funds, and other resources for research programs based on the scholarly and educational merits of the proposed research, and not on speculations concerning the political or moral impropriety of the uses which might be made of its results.

The above principles circumscribe Northwestern Health Sciences University’s role with respect to University-connected research. They in no way diminish, and indeed they are to enforce, the individual researcher’s personal responsibility to assure that the sources of funding for research, and its perceived applications are consistent with individual judgment and conscience.