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Heartland Community College Statement on Academic Freedom

Heartland Community College recognizes the principles of academic freedom that guarantee employees and students the right to pursue teaching and learning with full freedom of inquiry. In the development of knowledge, teaching activities, and creative endeavors, college employees and students must be free to cultivate a spirit of inquiry and scholarly criticism.

Academic freedom is the right of faculty members to interpret findings and communicate conclusions without being subjected to any interference, molestation, or penalization when these conclusions are at variance with those of constituted authorities or organized groups beyond the College. Faculty members have a corresponding obligation to study, investigate, present, interpret and discuss facts and ideas concerning their fields of knowledge in a responsible manner. Since human knowledge is limited and changeable, the faculty member will acknowledge the facts on which controversial views are based and show respect for reasonable opinions held by others. While striving to avoid bias, the faculty member will nevertheless present the conclusions to which he or she believes the evidence points.

Instructors are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should refrain from introducing into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Additionally, the faculty, as experts in their fields, creates their department's curriculum and must uphold the standards and stated outcomes of the courses they teach.

When speaking or writing as citizens, college employees are free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their position in the community imposes special obligations. They should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Therefore, they should strive for accuracy, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and make every effort to indicate that they are not institutional spokespersons.

Principles of academic freedom also encompass the right of the student to be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. Students are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion. However, they are responsible for learning the content of study for which they are enrolled.

To insure these principles of academic freedom, Heartland Community College actively and openly works to foster these freedoms, including the defense of college employees who, while maintaining the high standards of their profession, find their freedom of expression attacked or curtailed.

Last Updated: August 2006
Committee Members: Ed Carrol, John Dotta, Dale Hoke, Kim McHale, Rachelle Stivers, Jennifer Swartout, Johnny tenBroek, and Allan Saaf