Voicing academic freedom concerns, Cornell faculty push for greater role in university’s global expansion plans

Sarah McLaughlin:

For years, Cornell University has been an institution of note for those interested in how U.S. academic institutions approach academic freedom, free expression, and ethical challenges in international collaborations. Between the university’s 2018 cancellation of an exchange program in China due to student rights concerns, its creation of guidelines intended to protect academic freedom in global programs, last year’s campus-wide protest against a proposed dual degree program in China, and the university’s decision to move forward with the dual degree program despite the pushback, Cornell has been a campus to watch. 

Now, Cornell’s faculty senate has added another chapter to the university’s international engagement dealings with the proposal of a resolution pressing for Cornell’s administration to include faculty input in its future Global Hubs decision-making. As the resolution (and common sense) make clear, universities should be more conscious of core values like free expression and academic freedom while pursuing international expansion. 

The resolution, sponsored by nine faculty members, asserts that “Cornell already has a significant footprint in international educational programs” and in some cases “there were serious ethical issues, which remain, that were bypassed in the agreements negotiated . . . that had these relationships come before the faculty senate would have at least received a public airing.” It goes on to explain (emphasis added):