Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(1), 9; doi: 10.35995/jci03010009
The Perversion of Virtue―Causes and Consequences of Threats to Academic Freedom in the Contemporary University
1 University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA;
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Received: 7 May 2022 / Revised: 16 Mar 2023 / Accepted: 30 Mar 2023 / Published: 28 Apr 2023
The authors locate contemporary fissures in academic freedom in two interrelated macro-societal developments that intensified across the second half of the twentieth century: massification, involving the exponential expansion of higher education, and standardization, an isomorphism of structure and content in academic organization. The article develops a theoretic argument that the unfurling of higher education nationally and globally together with its sociocultural consistency creates a supranatural order endowed with unprecedented power centered in the core actors of universities. While these historical developments create for universities a dominant moral authority in the contemporary epoch, they also engender moralism—an evaluation of speech, writing, and behavior that venerates emotion. To illustrate the strategies of those who deploy moralism, a comparison is drawn between moralism’s contemporary instantiation in higher education and the early medieval Catholic church’s approach to perceived competitors. The comparison demonstrates that while displays of moralism in higher education may be comparatively new, their historical uses are well-worn. While massification and standardization have entailed individual and societal benefits, a rise of moralism obstructs the academic freedom on which institutions of higher education depend.
Keywords: academic freedom; higher education; massification; standardization; faculty; students; identity politics
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Hermanowicz, E.T.; Hermanowicz, J.C. The Perversion of Virtue―Causes and Consequences of Threats to Academic Freedom in the Contemporary University. Controversial_Ideas 2023, 3, 9.
Hermanowicz ET, Hermanowicz JC. The Perversion of Virtue―Causes and Consequences of Threats to Academic Freedom in the Contemporary University. Journal of Controversial Ideas. 2023; 3(1):9.
Hermanowicz, Erika T.; Hermanowicz, Joseph C. 2023. "The Perversion of Virtue―Causes and Consequences of Threats to Academic Freedom in the Contemporary University." Controversial_Ideas 3, no. 1: 9.