Panel Discussion: Academic Freedom and the New McCarthyism

March 14, 2011 @ 6.30 PM
CUNY Graduate Center, rm 201 (basement level)
365 Fifth Avenue
B/D/F/M/N/Q/R to 34th St-Herald Square

Our university is once again under attack. Such vitriolic opponents of academic freedom as Fox News pundit Glenn Beck and NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind have recently targeted City University of New York faculty members Frances Fox Piven and Kristofer Petersen-Overton, respectively, in the worst academic witch-hunts seen in years. A defense campaign for Petersen-Overton successfully demanded that the Brooklyn College administration reinstate him after he was fired on egregious grounds, while Piven’s situation is now eliciting national concern for what these threats portend for left-wing academics at universities everywhere.

In this context, many education advocates have begun to ask what political strategies are needed to challenge such assaults on academic expression and faculty due process. Moreover, a look back at the era of McCarthyism–with its hidden origins in the CUNY system itself–warns us that such intellectual silencing may further grow in the absence of a principled defense of freedom both in and outside the classroom. This March 14 event, the first in the Adjunct Project’s new Workshop Series at the Graduate Center, will bring together these speakers for a discussion on the struggle for academic freedom in the past, present, and future. On the heels of continuing massive protests to protect unions in Wisconsin and around the Midwest, the struggle for academic freedom has also become about protecting our rights to organize–from Madison to NYC. Please join us for this exciting event.


Ashley Dawson : Professor of English, CUNY Graduate Center, co-editor of Dangerous Professors: Academic Freedom and the National Security Campus
Kristofer Petersen-Overton : Adjunct Lecturer of Political Science, Brooklyn College
Frances Fox Piven : Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America
Carol Smith : Retired faculty, The City College of New York, curator of the online exhibit The Struggle for Free Speech at CCNY, 1931-42

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