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LINGUIST List 22.2717

Thu Jun 30 2011

FYI: Book Call: Academic Freedom in ELT Research

Editor for this issue: Brent Miller <brentlinguistlist.org>

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        1.     Damian Rivers , Book Call: Academic Freedom in ELT Research

Message 1: Book Call: Academic Freedom in ELT Research
Date: 30-Jun-2011
From: Damian Rivers <damian.riverslang.osaka-u.ac.jp>
Subject: Book Call: Academic Freedom in ELT Research
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Damian J. Rivers
Osaka University, Japan

Brian A. McMillan
Hiroshima Bunkyo Women's University, Japan

Within the global field of English Language Teaching (ELT), a primary
motivation for undertaking research is to improve language learning and
teaching practices in order to maximize learner proficiency outcomes.
However, teacher-researchers may feel significant pressure to avoid
pursuing and publishing research which poses a challenge to
long-established or commercially profitable practices (Teichler & Yağci,
2009). That is, when certain pedagogical practices are deemed by
authorities to be exempt from criticism or above questioning, one can argue
that a serious threat is posed to the development and transference of
knowledge. In a general sense, academic freedom concerns the belief that
freedom of inquiry for both students and teachers is an essential component
in the social mission of higher education institutions as contributors to
the public good. The general principles of academic freedom assert that
university scholars should have freedom to undertake research and to teach
or communicate ideas or facts, including those that are inconvenient to
external political groups or to authorities, without being targeted for any
kind of repressive action by their institution, unless their methods are
found to be clearly incompetent or contrary to professional ethics by
qualified bodies within their field of study (Karran, 2009). One of the
most interesting aspects of academic freedom is that its application is
often context-specific, reflective of wider social practices and official
policies concerning domains such as human rights and freedom of speech—the
core principles which underpin democratic societies around the world.
Indeed, the wider social implications of academic freedom have been
highlighted by John Dewey (1936):

The social significance of academic freedom lies in the fact that without
freedom of inquiry and freedom on the part of teachers and students to
explore the forces at work in society… the habits of intelligent action
that are necessary to the orderly development of society cannot be created.
(p. 7)

One of the most significant implications of viewing academic freedom as
being ''inexorably linked to the formation of democratic values'' (Tierney
& Lechuga, 2010, p. 118) is that institutions and individual institutional
agents must demonstrate considerable restraint when deciding whether or not
to intervene in an individual faculty member’s teaching and research agenda
due to the wider socio-democratic principles threatened by any such

The proposed volume seeks to document various cases within ELT research
(across multiple contexts) in which academic freedom has been threatened or
denied, to give voice to teacher-researchers who have thus been silenced
and to draw attention to research which has been suppressed. In
acknowledging that the denial of academic freedom may come in many
subversive forms, the editors are keen for potential authors to explore
specific cases from a variety of perspectives including (but not limited
to) issues concerning democracy, the social function of education in theory
and in practice, power relationships in the workplace, self-censorship, and
the dynamics of workplace exclusion and bullying. In pursuing these
dimensions, the editors welcome submissions from a variety of
methodological standpoints. The editors are also keen to showcase ideas on
how to protect freedom of inquiry and maintain research integrity within
ELT research, even when findings reveal limitations or deficiencies in
policies and practices which are promoted by those in positions of authority.

Potential authors are invited to submit a 400-word proposal in English
(including a few lines about the author(s)) to both editors by November 1st

Publication of the volume will be sought with a major international publisher.

Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics

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