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Academic Freedom and Christian Scholarship [Paperback]

By Anthony J. Diekema (Author) & Edward E. Ericson, Jr. (Foreword by)
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Item description for Academic Freedom and Christian Scholarship by Anthony J. Diekema & Edward E. Ericson, Jr....

In this book an unabashed defender of academic freedom offers well-founded advice to an academy that has seemingly lost its way. Drawing on forty years in higher education, including twenty years as president of Calvin College, the author reflects on the extensive scholarly literature on academic freedom against the backdrop of personal experience.

Publishers Description
The dawning of the third millennium finds many Christian colleges and universities in a search for identity. Coming to grips with the confused, often maligned topic of academic freedom is an essential part of this search. In this volume an unabashed defender of academic freedom offers well-founded advice to an academy that has seemingly lost its way. Drawing on forty years in higher education, including twenty years as president of Calvin College, Anthony Diekema reflects on the extensive scholarly literature on academic freedom against the backdrop of personal experience. He develops the larger philosophical framework necessary for thinking about academic freedom but also offers pointed advice gleaned from specific events and challenges to academic freedom that he has personally confronted. This balanced approach provides a seasoned perspective for those struggling with the subject of academic freedom in their own institutions. In the course of the book Diekema develops a sound working definition of the concept of academic freedom, assesses the threats it faces, acknowledges the significance of worldview in its implementation, and explores the policy implications for its protection and promotion in Christian colleges.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Academic Freedom and Christian Scholarship by Anthony J. Diekema & Edward E. Ericson, Jr. has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 08/28/2000 page 78
  • Christian Century - 02/07/2001 page 64

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.12" Width: 5.98" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.79 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 8, 2000
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802847560  
ISBN13  9780802847560  

Availability  122 units.
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More About Anthony J. Diekema & Edward E. Ericson, Jr.

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Diekema was president of Calvin College from 1976 to 1996. He now works as a consultant in higher education and for nonprofit organizations.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > College & University > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > College & University
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Curricula
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > General
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Education > By Level > College
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education

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Reviews - What do customers think about Academic Freedom and Christian Scholarship?

Good Introduction to the Subject  May 1, 2005
In this book Diekema provides a good general introduction to academic freedom and its relation to Christian scholarship. He draws upon a lot of research on academic freedom across disciplines as well as personal experience. The book attempts to provide a workable definition of 'academic freedom' before turning to threats to academic freedom, academic freedom in the context of worldview, policy proposals for Christian colleges, and final reflections.

While Diekema does a good job of identifying many of the threats to academic freedom and some plausible diagnonses and solutions to these problems, I wish he had expanded this chapter of the text. Moreover, the definition of academic freedom receives short shrift. Several sections of the book left me wanting further elaboration.

For example, the author limits his discussion to academic freedom as it pertains to faculty. Perhaps this move was necessary for the scope of the project. However, I was puzzled by his justification for limiting academic freedom to faculty and not also to students. He says in a footnote on p. 8 that "students, at this stage in their intellectual development, are neither qualified nor equipped to handle the rights and responsibilities of academic freedom as here defined." I wonder if he would say this of graduate students. On p. 16 he mentions problems graduate students encounter in regard to academic freedom. It would seem the power differential between faculty and graduate students would exceed that between tenured and untenured faculty with which Diekema is most concerned. Academic freedom is needed to protect graduate students too.

The chapter on worldview is generally well written, but may miss the point. I realize that Diekema's strategy is to secure a fair hearing for the Christian worldview in the academy and he believes that recognizing the legitimacy of worldviews, religious and secular, is a good way to achieve it. However, he banks too heavily on the influence of postmodernism in the academy at large. Postmodernism's influence is overestimated in my judgment. From my experience as a graduate student in a philosophy dept., modernism is still firmly entrenched in the secular academy at least in certain disciplines. While postmodernists might be open to the perspectivism of 'worldview legitimacy' modernists are less inclined to be so. Nevertheless, I agree that all worldviews that are rationally defensible should at least be debated.

There were also a couple of stylistic problems I would have liked to see changed. My understanding is that the project was originally a series of articles that were compiled into a book. In some places this is evident. There is quite a bit of overlap and unnecessary repetition. Also annoying are the overuse of certain words and phrases like "chilling effect" "militates" and "stay the course." While it is never wise to trade precise terminology for colorful terminology, the author could have been more creative and made things less tedious for the reader.

Despite these minor criticisms, the book is worth reading and does put its finger on many of the problems within the academy today. As someone who has attended both religiously affiliated and secular institutions I can say that many of Diekema's diagnoses apply to both. Lip-service is paid to academic freedom without clear definitions or enforcement in place. Also, Diekema is quite right in saying that the absence of faith statements from secular institutions does not mean the absence of implicit faith commitments. Often such unstated orthodoxies pose a threat to academic freedom. It is not only religiously affiliated institutions that face challenges in this regard. I recommend this book as entry level reading on this topic of particular interest to Christian scholars.

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