Academic Freedom Dispute Over New Canadian Institute

June 21, 2010

A new international affairs institute in Canada is the focus of a debate over academic freedom. The Globe and Mail reported that concerns have grown since the ouster of Ramesh Thakur, formerly vice rector of United Nations University, as the first director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The school is affiliated with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and a private think tank founded by Jim Balsillie, an entrepreneur. The concerns focus on the control that the think tank has over appointments at the university-affiliated international affairs center. Thakur, in an e-mail to the Globe and Mail, said: "Academic freedom is the bedrock of the university, and autonomy from outside interests (however well-meaning) is important in protecting that academic freedom.”

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