Nov 25 2004
Free to speak out? On the rights and responsibilities of academics in the public debate

"Academic freedom" in the sense of the academic's freedom and responsibility to express and engage themselves in the public realm.
More specifically:
Are there limits to this freedom over and above what applies to all citizens? If so, how should they be enforced and by whom?
Are there duties to make use of this freedom? If so, in what form, to what extent, and how should such use be encouraged?
How have relevant practices evolved in Belgium and elsewhere, and how should they evolve?

Programme and downloadable contributions

(click here to download programme)

14-16h : First session


Domain 1 : Speaking out on the multicultural society : rights and responsibilities

  • Paul Cliteur, (Universiteit van Leiden) on coping with political correctness (document)
  • Comments :
  • Fabienne Brion, (UCL) (document)
  • Matthias Storme, (KULeuven & UA) (document)
  • Questions

Domain 2 : Speaking out on environmental threats : rights and responsibilities

  • Edwin Zaccai, (ULB) on the Lomborg affair (document)
  • Comments :
  • Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, (UCL)
  • Gilbert Eggermont, (VUB) (document)
  • Questions

16h30-18h30 : Second session

Overview of law and regulations on academics in the public debate

  • Dirk Voorhoof, (UGent) (document)
  • Questions

Panel on how the academic's freedom to speak out should be used and regulated

  • Benoit Frydman, (ULB)
  • Herman De Dijn, (KULeuven) (document)
  • Alain Eraly, (ULB) (document)

General discussion

Conclusion : Philippe Van Parijs (UCL) (document)

Newspapers articles

  • Vrijheid (De Morgen) (document)
  • We glijden af naar zelfcensuur (De Standaard) (document) (document)
  • Quelle place pour les universitaires dans le débat public? (La Libre Belgique) (document) (document)


Special issue of Ethische Perspectieven, vol 14, issue 3, September 2005, 173-224.

The table of contents of this special issue can be seen here.

Can be ordered at:

Uitgeverij Peeters
Bondgenotenlaan 153,
B-3000 Leuven
Tel.: +32 (0)16-23 51 70
Fax: +32-(0)16-22 85 00