UNE’s Law School invites you to the Annual Sir Frank Kitto Public Lecture 2022: The Democratic Significance of Academic Freedom

Presented by Professor Adrienne Stone FASSA FAAL – Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

1pm AEST Tuesday 12 July 2022

Via Zoom Webinar, please register here

Academic freedom is essential to the proper pursuit of knowledge within a university but – at least until a series of recent controversies – the principle has been little discussed in Australian universities and is commonly confused with freedom of speech. This lecture will explore and examine the rationales for academic freedom (as distinct from freedom of speech) and examine the implications of the principle for academic ethics, university governance and regulation of the universities in Australia.

Although academic freedom is to be valued primarily for its role in the pursuit of knowledge, the lecture will focus on a related dimension of academic freedom: its connection to democratic government. It will be argued that universities provide essential intellectual infrastructure for democracy by providing independent sources of information and knowledge that enable citizens to make informed choices and to hold governments to account. Universities are therefore valuable to the citizenry as a whole and academic freedom should be understood as a principle of democratic – even constitutional – significance.

Adrienne Stone is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow and Director, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne. Adrienne researches in the areas of constitutional law and constitutional theory with particular attention to freedom of expression. As a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow her Laureate Program on Comparative Constitutional Law assembles a research team to investigate challenges to liberal democratic constitutionalism. She is the author (with VC Griffith University Professor Carolyn Evans) of Open Minds Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech (2021). With Frederick Schauer, she is editor of the Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech (2021) and with Cheryl Saunders AO is the editor of the Oxford Handbook on the Australian Constitution. She has published widely in international and Australian law and other journals. Adrienne is President of the International Association of Constitutional Law and is an elected fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of Law.