A greater percentage of social scientists today feel that their academic freedom has been threatened than was the case during the McCarthy era.
That finding — from Neil Gross, an assistant professor of sociology at Harvard University — was among a series of pessimistic papers presented at a forum on academic freedom Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Lisa Anderson, a professor of international relations at Columbia University, said that she likes to think of herself as an optimistic person, but finds herself worried that attacks on academic freedom are getting worse and are likely to continue along those lines. Anderson just finished 10 years as dean of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, and the last few years of her tenure found her among the Middle Eastern studies scholars who were regularly criticized by some pro-Israel groups for alleged anti-Israel or anti-American bias. The attacks have "deeply damaged the research community," Anderson said.
Anderson said that young scholars of Middle Eastern literature or history (she stressed that she wasn't talking about those who study policy or the current political climate) are finding themselves "grilled" about their political views in job interviews, and in some cases losing job offers as a result of their answers.
...Outside groups that are critical of those in Middle Eastern studies, she said, are shifting the way scholarship is evaluated.
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