December 24, 2021
The National Academy of Education is a scholarly research organization that supports the academic freedom of its members defined by the Association of American Universities (AAU) as the freedom “to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint.” Academic freedom involves the liberty to conduct research, scholarship, and publication and draw conclusions based in evidence. This freedom extends to the selection of subject areas, methodologies, and assertions of the value of contributions but does not protect against scholarly critiques of the academic work. The principle of academic freedom is a longstanding one endorsed and affirmed by accredited colleges and universities, and many institutes and academies throughout the nation.
Because of the nature of their subject matter expertise, members of the academic community often are solicited to provide expert testimony on matters of import in individual circumstances as well as the society at large. That expertise may be presented in public testimony of various issues—both civil and criminal. Debates concerning medicine, public health, civil engineering, social policy, and emotional and psychological well-being are but a few of the areas of expertise about which academics are called to testify.
In the field of education, academics have been important experts in areas such as school segregation, school funding, affirmative action, and special education assignment, among others. Because of the principle of academic freedom, we affirm that members of the academic community have the right to provide expert testimony if they so choose.