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Press Release: Political scientists speak out for academic freedom

04 Dec 2018 5:19 PM | Sarah Bickerton (Administrator)

At its recent Annual General Meeting held at Victoria University of Wellington, the New Zealand Political Studies Association passed a motion in support of academic freedom.

President Kate McMillan says the motion is timely with a number of academic freedom issues  arising recently. “It is essential to our democracy that academic researchers be able to pursue their work without harassment or intimidation” said Dr McMillan. “Political studies is an area in which academic freedom is particularly sensitive as students need to hear and express diverse political opinions in classes and on campus, and academics need to be able to research and to contribute to public debates openly and with confidence.”

The New Zealand Political Studies Association is the main professional organisation for those working in political studies in New Zealand. Members include academic and other researchers, many connected to tertiary institutions and also some who are not, graduate students, and practitioners. The Association is affiliated to the International Political Science Association and is a constituent organisation of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

The motion passed at the AGM read:

The New Zealand Political Studies Association reaffirms the statutory freedoms of all staff and students in universities, in accordance with Section 161 of the Education Act, which states that they have the freedom to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions. We note that university staff and students are held accountable to high ethical and academic standards in the exercise of this freedom. The law requires institutions and their leadership ‘to give effect to’ this freedom. 

The New Zealand Political Studies Association calls on universities to ensure this statutory freedom is protected and upheld.  

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