Academic freedom in New Haven and Singapore: a summary of Simon Chesterman’s March 30th, 2012 piece in the Staits Times

Professor Simon Chesterman writes, in lieu of the upcoming vote on a resolution on Yale-NUS, a commentary for the Straits Times about academic freedom, opining that there is a relationship between academic freedom and the wider political climate.

He also pointed out that academic freedom—wherein teaching should be conducted without “unreasonable interference”—is not an “absolute right”, but comes with responsibilities such as upholding ethical and legal codes of conduct.

In 2007 he was involved in the collaboration between New York University (NYU) and NUS, where a Master of Laws program was initiated, and said that the NYU faculty initially had similar concerns about academic freedom, though they have resultantly taught “just as they would in New York”, discussing controversial topics freely.

Every university is indubitably influenced by the inherent wider socio-political environment, and Singapore is undoubtedly markedly different from New Haven, which is “the whole point”.

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