Iowa State debate shows how lawmakers can undermine academic freedom

Posted By TEU on Mar 30, 2017 |

Iowa State University is standing by a lecturer who assigned students to write a historical account of the September 11, 2001, attacks from the perspective of a terrorist network.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the university’s provost said it was “important to study the underlying cultural and political issues that led to the attacks, in hopes that will help prevent another attack in the future.”

The assignment was attacked by a Republican representative in the state legislature who claimed that by “asking students to write from the perspective of terrorists, you, in some way, are asking for some sort of justification for what happened.”

The lawmaker’s comments come at a time of greater scrutiny of the syllabuses and assignments offered in college and university courses.

The conservative group Turning Point USA last year introduced a website, Professor Watchlist, that includes the names of more than 200 lecturers who “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”

The list has been denounced by faculty organisations as a threat to academic freedom.

TEU national president, Sandra Grey, said “this was clearly a global problem and tertiary education staff everywhere should stand together against threats to academic freedom.”

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