The AHA Council has passed the following statement on recently proposed legislation in Michigan:
Academic freedom is indispensable to the educational enterprise. The AHA deplores efforts of legislators and other public officials to override the professional judgment of college and university faculty in curricular matters broadly defined. Faculty must remain in control of decisions such as establishing curriculum, creating syllabi, choosing reading material and making other kinds of assignments, and providing research opportunities for their students. Partisan political meddling is bad both for the educational development of students and for the pursuit of knowledge.
On Sunday, the American Historical Association released a statement deploring the effort to intimidate AHA president-elect William Cronon. A few members have asked for additional information and context for the statement, so we offer the following:
The controversy was initiated by a blog post on Dr. Cronon’s personal web site: “Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere?” In subsequent items on his blog, Cronon details how the Wisconsin Republican Party issued an Open Records Law request for his University of Wisconsin—Madison emails.
The American Historical Association deplores recent efforts by the deputy executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party to intimidate William Cronon, a distinguished professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the incoming president of the AHA.
Anyone concerned about the extension of Institutional Review Board (IRB) oversight into humanities and social science research will want to read The American Association of University Professors new report on “Research on Human Subjects: Academic Freedom and the Institutional Review Board.” As the report details, the IRBs exercise virtually unchecked power, make up standards and criteria as they go along, and typically fail to provide any means of appealing their decisions.
For those who do not follow these issues, these review boards were established to protect human beings from dangerous medical or psychological experiments.