On Wednesday 6 September 2023 NIAS celebrates the start of a new academic year. The theme of this year’s festive opening ceremony is ‘Academic Freedoms’. During the NIAS Opening of the Academic Year we explore the nature, meaning and limits of academic freedom, together with invited speakers and the Institute’s newest year group. This year’s ceremony is extra special as it coincides with the book launch of Academic Freedoms: What is at Stake? (Academische vrijheden: wat staat er op het spel?, Amsterdam University Press), a NIAS publication edited by Lukas M. Verburgt and NIAS Director Jan Willem Duyvendak.
Academic freedom is a condition for good research and a core feature of modern academia, and of institutes like NIAS specifically. At the same time, academic freedom is being challenged from different sides and is under pressure in many countries, including the Netherlands. What is academic freedom? Why is it so important for science? Who is responsible for protecting it, and what exactly should it be protected from? How is academic freedom connected to professional academic norms and duties? Does it have limits, and if so how are these to be drawn?
During the ceremony, we will address and discuss these and other timely questions. Our point of departure will be that academic freedom is not one thing. Instead, it is essentially diverse and plural. Rather than academic freedom, in the singular, there seem to be academic freedoms, in the plural. Some of these are ‘negative’, in the sense of freedom from interference (by governments or business); others are ‘positive’, referring to the freedom of scholars to determine what they research and how; and yet others occupy a complex grey zone, for instance in the case of the (lack of) access of scholars at risk to the scientific community.
With contributions from, among others, Marion Koopmans (Professor of Health Virology, Erasmus MC, and Member Advisory Board RIVM) on the role of social media and Saar Slegers (journalist) on academic freedom in authoritarian countries. The first copy of the book Academische vrijheden will be presented to Janneke Gerards (Professor of Fundamental Rights, Utrecht University, and chair of the KNAW committee on academic freedom).
16:30 -17:00 Walk in, coffee/tea
17:00 – 18:00 Welcome and Opening
- First copy of Academic Freedoms: What is at Stake? (Academische vrijheden: wat staat er op het spel?, Amsterdam University Press) presented to Janneke Gerards, Professor of Fundamental Rights, UU
- Talk by Marion Koopmans, Professor of Health Virology, Erasmus MC
- Talk by Saar Slegers, journalist
18:00-18:30 Closing & Drinks
The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study fosters and generates academic freedom, thanks to its interdisciplinary, international and curiosity-driven approach. NIAS’ vision is to be an intellectual haven for a diverse group of scholars, journalists, writers and artists. It is a place where individuals can work without interruption and are free to challenge boundaries, explore detours, deviate from the status quo and approach intellectual confrontation head on.