Academic freedom and public law: a business and human rights perspective

The paper investigates the status and role of academic freedom in public law. Recent developments in international law indicate that academic freedom may be a new, emerging “freedom”—albeit quite underdeveloped in terms of conceptual tools, operationalizing mechanisms, monitoring methods, and benchmarking schemes. The peculiarity of academic freedom is that it is situated within neoliberalism and illiberalism. In addition, competing ideas exist surrounding how to best conceptualize academic freedom: an individual right (of faculty and students); a set of requirements for autonomous institutional design; a field to be regulated for market service providers or public commodities; or a benchmarking tool for international policymaking or academic ranking—not to mention the challenge of how to incorporate the zeitgeist of social justice movements.