UNE Center for Global Humanities presents 'Academic Freedom in a Time of Democratic Decline'

A stack of books on fire
Scholar Adam Sitze will deliver the lecture Monday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m.

As with so many aspects of our American life during these highly polarized times, institutions of higher education have come under attack in recent years. Elected officials have threatened to suspend funding of public institutions that house programs or faculty they see as acting in ways contrary to their political agendas. Social media demagogues have attempted to “cancel” faculty whose work centers around certain hot button issues. And the public has been left to wonder just how secure, or fragile, academic freedom is in today’s divided America.        

A lecture at the University of New England Center for Global Humanities will examine this phenomenon while shining a light on the special relationship between academic freedom and democracy when scholar Adam Sitze presents “Academic Freedom in a Time of Democratic Decline” on Monday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at the WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion on the UNE Portland Campus.

A professor in law, jurisprudence, and social thought at Amherst College, Sitze teaches courses on law and literature, legal and critical theory, and South African legal history. He has published in journals such as The Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, The London Review of International Law, Law and Critique, and Law, Culture and the Humanities. Most recently, he published a widely-read article titled “The Strange, Secret History of Tenure,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Sitze is also the author, editor, or translator of several books, including “The Impossible Machine: A Genealogy of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” “Political Spaces and Global War,” “Janus’s Gaze: Essays on Carl Schmitt,” and “Biopolitics: A Reader.” He has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the ACLS/SSRC/NEH, and the MacArthur Foundation. In the spring of 2022, he was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. 

In this lecture, Sitze will examine the relationship between academic freedom and political freedom and consider such questions as whether academic freedom should be limited to the privileges of a select few and whether academic freedom is imperative to the survival and renewal of liberal democracy in a time of rising authoritarianism.
This second lecture of the Fall 2022 season for the Center for Global Humanities will be followed by two more between now and December. Lectures at the Center are always free, open to the public, and streamed live online. For more information and to watch the event, please visit https://www.une.edu/events/2022/academic-freedom-time-democratic-decline