The SFU Academic Freedom Group is a faculty-led organization dedicated to promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in research and education at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Learn about us →
Mission & Vision
SFU is committed to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge through teaching and research and is guided by the principle of academic freedom, which is defined in the SFU/Faculty Association Collective Agreement as “the right to investigate, speculate, and comment without reference to prescribed doctrine, as well as the right to criticize the University, Association, and society at large”. SFU is also governed by British Columbia’s University Act, which requires taxpayer-funded universities to be “non-sectarian and non-political in principle” (s.66(1)). The SFU Academic Freedom Group is a faculty-led organization dedicated to upholding these ideals. Although our members hold diverse perspectives, we are bound together by our commitment to the following three principles:
- Open inquiry. The Group advocates for academic freedom in teaching, research, and speech for members of the SFU community and their guests.
- Viewpoint diversity. The Group believes that SFU should promote the thoughtful engagement of students and scholars with a broad range of opinions, skills, and experiences.
- Constructive disagreement. The Group encourages respectful, honest, and courageous discussion, including discussion of controversial ideas, in and out of the classroom.
In October 2022, a small group of faculty members gathered to discuss growing concerns surrounding self-censorship, fear of exercising academic freedom, and the perceived politicization of SFU. The meeting resulted in the decision to establish the Academic Freedom Group on campus, with the aim of fostering open discussions regarding challenges to academic freedom at SFU and communicating these concerns to the university administration.
By May 2023, our group had grown to include over 45 members and joined the ranks of the 37 Heterodox Academy Campus Communities. Presently, our group comprises more than 50 faculty and staff members, and we are in the process of creating a student chapter. We actively engage with the SFU administration by voicing our concerns through written letters and participating in consultations. We also hold regular group meetings (some formal, some social) to exchange information and to strategize about current issues. Our next major goal is to start a “Heterodox Café”, a series of public talks where speakers with diverse perspectives model the Heterodox Way and other tools for constructive disagreement.