We recently discussed a controversy at the GW International School where the Administration told faculty that panels had to be gender diverse or face cancelation. Now there is an analogous controversy in Sweden where Professor Erik Ringmar, a senior political science lecturer at Lund University, is under attack for refusing to include an author on his curriculum solely because of her gender. Critics have objected to the school gender quota as an attack on academic freedom.
Ringmar decided to omit author Judith Butler from the syllabus of a course he was teaching on “Modern Society and Its Critics.” Butler is a well known author and worthy of study but Ringmar elected to assign a different list of works. However, the university has a rule that stipulates that at least 40 percent of the reading list of any given course must be composed by women. After students objected, the committee told Ringmar keep Butler on his syllabus. He refused the obvious denial of academic freedomas discussed by Inside Higher Education.
As with free speech, academic freedom is under attack by groups like Antifa as as tool of oppression. In a December 8th editorial at American University, Nickolaus Mack, a managing editor for the student newspaper, denounced the Faculty Senate for passing a resolution in support of academic freedom. The resolution was two years old, but Mack objected to the resolution as enabling “campus speakers who espouse sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic views.”
Ringmar has faced the same blind disregard of academic freedom in Sweden. He declared “thinking and learning cannot be restricted according to quotas.”
The pressure has worked. Ringmar has decided to drop the course rather than apply a non-academic measure for the readings that he considers worthy of the course.