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Forum to focus on political bias in the classroom

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 10/16/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In order to promote an open discussion of political bias in the classroom, the University of Illinois is holding a forum on the topic.

“Politics in the Classroom: Bias, Academic Freedom, and Student Learning” will begin at noon on Oct. 23 (Tuesday) in 319 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana. It is free and open to the public.

The forum is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Teaching Academy (LASTA), the American Association of University Professors and the Campus Faculty Association.

“The forum responds to the ongoing national controversy on college campuses about the bias, usually liberal, of professors in their teaching,” said Paul Diehl, an organizer of the forum, the Henning Larsen Professor of Political Science at the U. of I., and the director of LASTA.

According to Diehl, U. of I. faculty members representing a range of views on the controversy will serve on the panel.

Diehl said that complaints about political bias in the classroom “have been made at the U. of I. and indeed at campuses around the country.”

“Such charges raise questions about appropriate pedagogical strategies, the limits of academic freedom and the effect on student learning,” Diehl said. The AAUP recently released a report, “Freedom in the Classroom” , which addresses these issues.

The report “stands in contrast to critics such as David Horowitz, who have devised their own ‘Academic Bill of Rights,’ " he said.

The AAUP report will be one basis of discussion, Diehl said.