Managing academic freedom: recent cross-Atlantic developments

This paper charts the legal and institutional status of academic freedom in America after Garcetti v. Ceballos, a key First Amendment case decided by the US Supreme Court in 2006. It also addresses, in comparative compass, academic speech protection in the UK and the EU more broadly. Although a managerial ethos of university governance has reshaped academic freedom on both sides of the Atlantic, the shaping process has not been uniform. Differences in policy formation and institutional structure have produced significant variations in the safeguarding of faculty speech. Policy groups on the Continent have been particularly active in drafting aspirational statements on academic freedom. Both the UK and the EU also have legislation outlining the rights and responsibilities of university teaching and research. No such legislation exists in the US, where the courts have played a central role in determining the legal status of academic speech. Statutory provisions in Europe, by contrast, remain judicially untested. It is anticipated that academic freedom on both sides of the Atlantic will increasingly be defined in contract, with varying degrees of third-party appeal.

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