Introduction to the Handbook on Academic Freedom
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Watermeyer explores the context in which questions over academic freedom take root in order to provide an introduction to the volume and a context in terms of which the contributions can be meaningfully understood. For this purpose, he depicts four 'framings' or 'scenarios' through which academic freedom can be assessed. The first of these concerns 'Research (or the REF as academic unfreedom)' where he portrays the impact that the technology of assessment and accountability is having on academics' careers and their freedom to do research. The second 'scenario' examines 'Teaching (or the sanitized curriculum and the university as a safe space)' where he examines the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the National Student Survey (NSS) as sector level mechanisms of performance evaluation which are increasingly interfering with academic freedom. His third 'scenario' refers to "public engagement (or social media as simulacra of academic freedom)", that is, as deflecting from the academic's real task of 'speaking truth to power'; and the fourth 'scenario' looks at industrial action and the potentials it contains within it for academic unfreedom.