The American Association of University Professors has set up an expert panel to monitor post-September 11 events on US university campuses and evaluate whether they infringe academic freedom.
Joan Scott, professor of social sciences at Princeton University and chair of the association's specialist committee on academic freedom, said: "It is crucial that we examine the lessons to be learnt from the conflicts of the past year, and what they might portend for the future." The AAUP expert panel is chaired by Robert O'Neil, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression and a former president of the universities of Virginia and Wisconsin.
Professor O'Neil said: "We need to know not only how September 11 has affected the academic freedom of faculties, but also what impact it has had on students and staff."
The committee will compile information about the way academic leaders and state government officials respond to controversial teaching and speech at particular colleges and universities; federal government restrictions on research; restrictions on foreign scholars and students; and what impact the Patriot Act has had on higher education and research.
The AAUP initiative is one of a range of monitoring projects in the wake of September 11.
Most recently, the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum has set up Campus Watch, a web-based operation to monitor Middle-East specialists. Campus Watch, which describes itself as a group of US academics committed to continued support for Israel, said that American scholars have adopted a predominantly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli stance.