The concepts of academic freedom are much debated, and it's clear that not everyone who uses the term means the same thing. A new book, For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom (Yale University Press), traces the history of academic freedom and its definitions in the United States. The authors are two law professors: Matthew W. Finkin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Robert C. Post of Yale University.
A judge ruled last week in Colorado that not only is tenure a good thing for the professors who enjoy it, it is valuable to the public. Further, the court ruled that the value (to the public) of tenure outweighed the value of giving colleges flexibility in hiring and dismissing. That is a principle that faculty members say is very important and makes this case about much more than the specific issues at play.