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Academic freedom more important than ever

Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union in conjunction with Academic Freedom Aotearoa, Massey University and NZUSA is proceeding with its Academic Freedom Conference: Challenges and Opportunities next week on Zoom.

The Conference is a timely contribution to an ongoing discussion within Aotearoa on academic freedom, and the role of tertiary education staff and institutions as critic and conscience of society.

As Academic Freedom Aotearoa spokesperson Professor Jack Heinemann (University of Canterbury) points out, ‘COVID-19 has demonstrated just how vital public scholars are in acting as the critic and conscience of society.’

‘Without academics such as Michael Baker (University of Otago), Siouxsie Wiles (University of Auckland), Michael Plank and Alex James (University of Canterbury), neither the public of New Zealand nor our policy makers would be as informed and well placed to make decisions in the best interests of the team of five million. They could not have fulfilled their vital roles in a national crisis without the freedom to pursue their academic interests and put uncomfortable truths forward into the national debate.’

Heinemann says ‘advocating for a country to shut down is not a popular thing to do but successfully doing so has saved a lot of lives.’

Covering topics ranging from activism and critical voices, Māori and indigenous knowledge, to ensuring academic freedom within our reformed vocational education and training sector, conference attendees will be part of a conversation exploring the many challenges and opportunities academic freedom faces.

Any media who wish to attend should contact TEU Communications and Campaigns Officer Enzo Giordani via or 021 198 0009.

What: Academic Freedom Conference: Challenges & Opportunities
When: 31 August – 1 September
Where: Online, by invitation only

To view the full programme, including abstracts, click here.

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