UW-Madison 2001 Conference of Academic Freedom

The conference, open to students, faculty, staff, and the public at no charge, was held on Thursday and Friday, February 22nd and 23rd, 2001, at the Pyle Center. Funding for the conference was provided by the Brittingham Fund, Inc.; and members of the Organizing Committee included Professors James Baughman (Journalism), Donald Downs (Political Science), Jane Hutchison (Art History), Diane Lindstrom (History), Stanley Payne (History), and Professor Emeritus W. Lee Hansen (Economics)[Chair].

Conference Purpose

  • To engage the campus — faculty, administrators, academic staff, and students — in a reasoned discussion of campus issues dealing with academic freedom, rights, and responsibilities, and thereby enlighten the general public about the importance of these seemingly abstract concepts to the continued vitality of the university and its search for the truth.
  • To probe new and continuing academic freedom issues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, among them the ending of the faculty speech code, the free speech issues involved in the University of Wisconsin vs. Southworth segregated free case, university-private sector partnerships such as the Reebok contract, and intellectual property rights arising as a result of increased private sector financing of university-based research and the growing commercial value of new scientific discoveries.
  • To continue the discussion of academic freedom issues that began at the 1994 Academic Freedom Conference whose purpose was the highlight then-current academic freedom issues in the context of the 100th anniversary of the Board of Regent’ famous “sifting and winnowing” statement. Among the topics included were the context and details of the famous “trial” of UW Economics Professor Richard T. Ely, the student speech code, new challenges to academic freedom, and the meaning of “sifting and winnowing” in today’s university.

Conference Organization

The conference brings together a wide ranging collection of UW-Madison faculty, academic staff, and students, as well as several outside presenters. The issues scheduled for the panels will have been explored in background papers prepared for the conference. Presenters will summarize their papers, and in some cases discussants will comment on these papers. Time is available for questions from the audience. For the schedule of sessions, authors, and titles of papers, go to the conference schedule. The end product will be a book comparable to the volume resulting from the 1994 Academic Freedom conference, namely, Academic Freedom on Trial, 100 Years of Sifting and Winnowing at the University of Wisconsin (distributed by the UW Press for the UW-Madison Office of Publications, 1998), edited by Hansen who also chaired the organizing committee for that conference.

The conference featured presentations by two nationally known experts, one Thursday morning to start the conference, and another the same evening as a public lecture (please see bios). The conference continued through Thursday afternoon, Friday morning, and concluded late Friday afternoon.

Speaker Bios


This entry was posted in Academic Freedom, Events. Bookmark the permalink.