In freedom's shadow

July 10, 1998

The Forum for the Future's HE21 Project encourages the higher education sector to play its part in shifting society to a more sustainable path. Jack Pridham (Letters, THES, July 3) wrongly implies that we are oblivious to the complexity and uncertainty associated with sustainability issues.

We endorse the government's view that enabling responsible global citizenship, which includes responsibilities relating to sustainability, is the education community's common task. Pridham fears that HE-sector engagement in this will compromise academic freedom. Perhaps we should look at this from another angle.

The National Union of Students has made "the environment" a major campaign, reflecting student support for integrating sustainability principles into academic and institutional practice. Should academics be free to ignore student demands? And should they be free to ignore employers' demands for sustainably literate graduates, to ignore the government's sustainable development education policies; to ignore responsibilities relating to the common good despite receiving public money? Isn't it about time that we faced up to the shadow side of academic freedom?

Shirley Ali Khan, HE21 project director, Forum for the Future

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