A group called Christian Higher Education Canada would like to see a national conference to bring together “all stakeholders within higher education” to discuss academic freedom.
CHEC represents 33 evangelical postsecondary institutions across Canada. Many of these institutions are small bible colleges with enrolments in the hundreds, but there are also nine university members, including Trinity Western University, Redeemer University College, Canadian Mennonite University and King’s University College in Edmonton (not to be confused with the institution of the same name affiliated with University of Western Ontario). All four of these institutions are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
The call for a national dialogue on academic freedom came following the annual general meeting of the group, held in Toronto on June 1. The members held discussions during the meeting on the recent visits and reports by delegations of the Canadian Association of University Teachers to three CHEC institutions (including TWU and CMU) and “the fact there are hints of future visits to other institutions.”
CAUT was investigating whether the requirement that professors at these institutions adhere to an “ideological or faith test as a condition of employment” violated academic freedom. University Affairs ran an opinion piece earlier this year on the TWU controversy.
Here is more from the CHEC press release (no link available):
CHEC as an organization recognizes the autonomy of its member institutions to each develop its own statement on academic freedom, but notes with concern the accusation by CAUT against some of its member institutions suggesting they do not practice academic freedom. The concern raised by CHEC is based on the seemingly arbitrary attitude of CAUT that it alone has authority to define the meaning of “university” and “academic freedom” within Canada and that those who do not accept its definitions are in some manner deficient.
Whereas academic freedom itself implies a basic respect for diversity of views and willingness to debate different positions without threat of reprisal, the Board of CHEC encourages the holding of a national conference to dialogue on the meaning of “university and “academic freedom” within the Canadian context, and in relation to global understandings of these terms. It recommends that such a conference include all stakeholders within higher education. The Board would be pleased to arrange representative voices to make presentation on behalf of the confessional position of its members in an effort to create a climate of dialogue.