Higher education faculty in the United States are facing increasingly fraught climates within which to conduct their teaching, research, and to support student success. Though impact is varied across states, waves of legislation have kindled conversations about academic freedom and freedom of expression on college campuses in ways not seen since the McCarthy era. Yet, little research has been conducted on the breadth and depth of impact on faculty themselves. In partnership with the AAUP, the AAC&U proposes to conduct a national study of faculty attitudes regarding academic freedom, and expression, self-censorship, and civil discourse. The approach to conducting this research will be thoughtful, balanced, and rigorous. AAC&U has secured the commitment of expert advisors to inform the development of the survey instrument and the highly respected research outfit, NORC at the University of Chicago, will provide research support.
The resulting deliverables of this timely research will be: 1) a national report on survey findings that includes a discussion guide on civil discourse, and 2) a survey instrument, appended to the final report that can be used by campuses to understand attitudes on academic freedom and civil discourse among their faculty.