On the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Ivan Sascha Sheehan – Associate Professor of Public and International Affairs – weighs in at the congressional newspaper The Hill to call attention to the importance of “Academic Freedom” and to highlight its importance to democratic discourse in the Middle East. Learn more about the valuable work undertaken by the US-based organization Scholars at Risk, a network of individuals and academic institutions that promotes the principles of academic freedom around the globe.
Excerpts via @TheHill: In totalitarian societies, power is maintained in part by the control of memory and reinvention of the past. While all societies promote a collective history, totalitarian states tend to advocate a single authorized version. In contemporary Iran, revolutionary ideology and memory itself has been reconstructed to erase any trace of the role of democratic-leaning students and academics in creating an official narrative that implies that the revolution was not about freedom or rights but only about Islamic identity. Recovering silenced accounts of the past has the potential to challenge dominant narratives and become a tool for advocates for change…
…As the world pays tribute to the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is important for U.S. officials to champion the freedom to think, write and teach freely and consider all of the implications this has for the development of tolerant and pluralistic societies. By supporting academic freedom as a universal commitment, U.S. leaders can make a small contribution toward a more democratic discourse in the Middle East and uphold a basic value too often taken for granted in the West. #PDF
Dr. Sheehan is the Director of the graduate programs in Negotiations & Conflict Management and Global Affairs & Human Security in the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore.