David Moshman to Students: Exercise Your Intellectual Freedom

August 21, 2013

Just in time for the new school year, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor David Moshman writes for The Huffington Post this week to share advice with students about how to get the most out of the educational opportunities that colleges provide. Some of these tips should sound familiar to Torch readers, but they bear repeating. For example, Moshman warns students not to insulate themselves from views different from their own: Think critically, and not just about ideas you dislike. If you agree with all your teachers and fellow students, think more critically. Seek out people who disagree with you and ideas contrary to your own. Consider the possibility that others may sometimes be right, or at least have reasonable ideas, and that you may sometimes be wrong, or at least fall short of the full truth. Of course, students may encounter some resistance in the process of sharing their perspectives, and Moshman reminds students: Assert your rights. Most faculty respect the intellectual freedom of students, but you may need to assert yourself to raise questions others are not raising or add additional ideas into a class discussion. If faced with censorship or sanctions, you may be protected by norms of academic freedom, school policies, or (at a public institution) the First Amendment. Learn your rights. FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus were written just for this purpose—to help students learn and protect their constitutional rights at colleges and universities. (Moshman himself has authored a book in this subject area, titled Liberty and Learning: Academic Freedom for Teachers and Students.) Moshman ends by emphasizing that students should actively participate in debates, “thereby promoting learning and development for yourself and others.” Read the rest of Moshman’s guidance at The Huffington Post.