Champions of Freedom: NAS and FIRE Meet in Washington, D.C.

If there are two organizations responsible for keeping the torch of academic freedom alive, they are the National Association of Scholars and FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). The leaders of FIRE will be among the speakers at the NAS conference in Washington, DC 9-11 January 2009. Click here for more information.

The NAS membership includes thousands of faculty committed to high standards and free inquiry. (Disclosure: I am president of the Illinois state affiliate). NAS reports have analyzed General Education requirements (woeful decline) and the current state of various disciplines (sick and sicker). The web site contains this information gratis. “Know your rights!”

FIRE is focused on civil liberties of all concerned with higher education, with primary focus on student freedom to speak, demonstrate, and learn from faculty who are not chained by the speech police. They have many projects including: videos on Youtube, a fast-growing Campus Freedom Network, Traffic Signs rating schools on freedom (see SIU’s to the right), and Guides on various topics (available in PDF on their web site).

If you can’t be in Washington, D.C., then join either group. Students ought to join the Campus Freedom Network of FIRE (click here. Or volunteer for NAS’s Argus Project.

Both groups have email listservs keeping you abreast of the fight against absurdity on campus. As they say down here, the NAS and FIRE folk are “good people.”

Jonathan Bean is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, and editor of the Independent book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader.
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