Panel on Academic Freedom

A Panel Discussion on Academic Freedom

The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) will be convening a panel discussion focused on critically exploring the history, values, and practices of academic freedom across the University as an institution. Mindful of the current national and local attention to these topics with a specific focus on issues of diversity and campus climate, this panel aims to foster thought provoking dialogue, elevate a pluralistic knowledge base for discourse on campus, and provide a venue to engage as members of a shared University of Chicago Community. This panel discussion is co-sponsored by SSA's Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Committee.


January 3, 2017: Academic freedom and diversity: Viewpoints on institutional practices and tensions

In 1915, The American Association of University Professors advanced a declaration of principles that laid the foundation for much of today’s legal and tacit understanding of academic freedom and tenure within institutions of higher education. For the contemporary university, however, debates persist around the very meaning and boundaries of practicing academic freedom in the context of growing diversity on campus and attunement to campus climates that are inclusive of not only a diverse set of ideas, but a demographically diverse student, staff, and faculty body. This year, University of Chicago Dean of Students Dean Ellison issued a welcome statement to first-year students reaffirming our University’s longstanding institutional commitment to academic freedom, and as such, our institutional rejection of silencing, or avoiding uncomfortable or disagreeable ideas or perspectives. This statement was met with vigorous national and local response both affirming and contesting these views and the University of Chicago itself as an exemplar of these ideals in higher education. 

This panel is on the topic of academic freedom and will examines institutional administrative level practices and tensions around the idea of academic freedom in the context of the explicit goals of preserving and fostering sacrosanct institutional values of diversity and inclusion. Panelists representing these select institutional level perspectives will explore the concept of academic freedom, its legal and historical foundations, possible distinctions between professional schools and disciplines, and the unique ways in which this is interpreted, practiced, and protected at the University of Chicago. Panelists will present their views briefly, and then respond to a set of shared questions posed by the moderator. For the remainder of the evening, attendees and panelists will transition to an informal reception designed to promote dialogue.



John W. Boyer has been a University of Chicago faculty member since 1975 and currently serves as the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History. Boyer was reappointed to a fifth term as Dean of the College in 2012. His scholarship focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century European political and cultural history and he has written three books in these areas, including Political Radicalism in Late Imperial Vienna: Origins of the Christian Social Movement, 1848-1897; Culture and Political Crisis in Vienna: Christian Socialism in Power, 1897-1918; and Karl Lueger (1844-1910). Boyer has also published numerous articles and monographs on the history of the University of Chicago including the recently published The University of Chicago: A History with the University of Chicago Press in October 2015, and the recently re-released Academic Freedom and the Modern University: The Experience of The University of Chicago.

Zareena Grewal is an associate professor in the departments of American Studies and Religious Studies and the Program in Ethnicity, Race and Migration at Yale University. She is also the former director of the Center for the Study of American Muslims at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Grewal is the author of numerous articles and chapters on the intersections of race and religion in American Muslim communities; her book Destination Tradition: American Islam and the Crisis of Authority (New York University Press, forthcoming) explores the global religious networks that connect US mosques to the intellectual centers of the Middle East. She is also a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Grewal received her doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Lorraine Gutiérrez is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. She also serves as the Chair of the Personality and Social Contexts Psychology Program and Director of the Center for Community Learning. Gutiérrez was recently appointed to lead Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts at the School of Social Work. She is a University of Chicago alumna having received her AM from the School of Social Service Administration in 1978. Her teaching and scholarship focuses on multicultural praxis in communities and organizations and higher education. She has published numerous scholarly articles and books including Handbook for Social Work with Groups and Developing learning and teaching about diversity and social justice.

Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Stone joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1973 after serving as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. He has served as Dean of the Law School (1987 to 1994) and Provost of the University (1994 to 2002). Stone is the author of many books on constitutional law including Speaking Out: Reflections of Law, Liberty and Justice (2015); Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime (2004); and Eternally Vigilant: Free Speech in the Modern Era (2002). This past fall he delivered the Aims of Education Address to incoming University of Chicago undergraduates which focused on examining the importance of free expression.



Gina Miranda Samuels is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Service Administration and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. Her scholarly interests include transracial adoption, mixed race and multiethnic identity formation, interpretive research methods, and the development of relational, kinship, and cultural ties among young adults whose childhoods are shaped by foster care and adoption. Professor Samuels' scholarship situates these lived experiences in a broader socio-historical, cultural, and theoretical context to critically explore how personal identity and well-being are constrained and promoted by child welfare policy and practice and by societal and personal constructions of race and family. She has published numerous academic articles in these areas and currently serves as a Board Affiliate of MAVIN Foundation, a national organization addressing the needs and concerns of multiracial populations and transracial adoptees.