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Is there a need to reimagine academic freedom? - 5 December 2022

Please note that this event has passed.

Hybrid event (online and in-person)

This inaugural event for the Presidential Series on Academic Freedom will discuss the state and practical relevance of research on academic freedom, from public policy to the applied knowledge theories around academic freedom.

It will attempt a characterisation of the current situation of academic freedom, including a synopsis of challenges, and debate who should play a role in addressing this situation, from public authorities to higher education institutions, academics and students. The panel will further investigate whether or not there is a need to reimagine academic freedom, and whether a new, shared, up-to-date and effective conceptual reference for academic freedom is necessary - and possible.

Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal, King's College London, will give the welcome and introduction followed by a panel discussion featuring:

  • Professor Terence Karran, University of Lincoln
  • David Lock, Secretary General, Magna Charta Universitatum
  • Professor Liviu Matei, Head of the School of Education, Communication & Society at King’s and founder of the Global Observatory on Academic Freedom(background paper)
  • Clare Robinson, Director of Advocacy, Scholars at Risk and lead author SAR Free to Think
  • Tamires Sampaio, Lawyer and former Vice-President of the Brazilian Students’ Union
  • Professor Linda Woodhead, F.D. Maurice Chair in Moral and Social Theology (moderator)

After the event, there will be a canapés and drinks reception from 19:00 to 20:00.

This is a hybrid event so will take place-in person but some contributions will be online. There is also the option for audience members to join online if they wish (please register using the red button and select the livestream option so you will receive the Zoom link in advance of the event).

Please note, King's events are free, which means we overbook to allow for no-shows and avoid empty seats. Admission is on a first come, first served basis, so please arrive in good time to avoid disappointment. We will not be able to admit those without tickets or latecomers.


Background paper, by Dr Liviu Matei


Speaker biographies

Professor Linda Woodhead

Linda Woodhead MBE FBA is F.D. Maurice Chair in Moral and Social Theology, and Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London. Her research focuses on religion, spirituality, and values in post-Christian societies. Her most recent books are That Was the Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (with Andrew Brown, 2016), Gen Z, Explained (with Katz, Ogilvie, Shaw 2021) and Unknowing God: Towards a Post-Abusive Theology (with Peter Harvey, 2022). She is currently researching the rise of ‘values’ to cultural and social prominence.

David Lock

David has been Secretary General of the Magna Charta Observatory since September 2014. Among his varied career in international higher education and university leadership, he has been the Director of International Projects at the UK’s Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the founding Registrar and Acting Chief Executive of the British University in Dubai, and Registrar and Secretary to the University of Hull in the UK. He is Chairman of the Gulf Education Conference and serves on the International Advisory Committee of the British Council.

Tamires Sampaio

Tamires is a black lawyer based on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil. Coordinator of the National Anti-Racist Front, she is a researcher in the areas of public security, the criminal justice system and structural racism. She was vice-president of the National Union of Students (UNE) and the first black president of the João Mendes Jr Academic Center at Mackenzie Law School.

Clare Robinson

Clare is Advocacy Director at Scholars at Risk, where she leads SAR’s efforts to identify, report on, and respond to attacks on higher education communities worldwide, including through the Free to Think report series. Clare developed and oversees the organisation’s Student Advocacy Seminars, faculty-led teams of students conducting advocacy on behalf of imprisoned scholars and students via the Scholars in Prison Project; and is responsible for research and advocacy around country-focused concerns relating to academic freedom.

Professor Terence Karran

Terence is Professor of Higher Education Policy in the School of Education at the University of Lincoln in the UK. He is also a Docent Professor in Educational Technology in the Faculty of Education at Oulu University in Finland. His more recent work has looked at academic freedom in Europe and Africa. In 2017, he undertook a study of academic freedom in the UK for the University and College Union, which was the basis for an ongoing appeal by the UCU to UNESCO that legislation in the UK does not protect academic freedom sufficiently. In 2019, he was commissioned to draft an Expert Report on “Threats to academic freedom and autonomy of universities in Europe”, for the Council of Europe’s Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which was a major contribution to the development of a new policy initiative by the Council to create a new convention on academic freedom.

Professor Liviu Matei

Dr Liviu Matei has been the Head of the King's School of Education, Communication & Society since March 2022, and is Professor of Higher Education & Public Policy. Before joining King’s, he directed the Yehuda Elkana Center for Higher Education at the Central European University, a collaborative academic initiative promoting applied policy research and professional training in higher education. He has founded the Global Observatory on Academic Freedom, which is supported by the Open Society University Network, and served on the Steering Committee of CIVICA - The European University of Social Sciences. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Central Asia and serves on the editorial boards of the Internationalisation of Higher Education Journal and the European Journal of Higher Education

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