Defending academic freedom
On September 11th our colleague Alf Gunvald Nilsen wrote an article on the Norwegian election by invitation from The Guardian.
Nilsens comment has received much attention in the media. In addition to different views on the content of the comment, it has also been raised questions of Nilsens right, as a university employee, to publish such a comment. Nilsen has also received anonymous threats by e-mail.
When the threat became known, security measures where implemented. This should first and foremost be interpreted as protecting a university employee, his colleagues and students, but it should also be understood as protecting academic freedom and the freedom of speech.
Even though there may be different opinions of the questions raised by Nilsen in his comment within our academic environment, we want to mark our full support to the right and freedom our colleague, and all university employees have to participate in public discussion on topics of current interest. For academics this participation is not only a right, but also an important part of our professional duty. This concerns basic values such as the freedom of speech and academic freedom.
We, the employees at The Department of Sociology, want to express gratitude that our rector has emphasized these same values in the discussion following Nilsens comment. We are proud to belong to an institution that protects academic freedom and freedom of speech in society, and sociological tradition commits us continue this despite such events as our colleague have experienced.