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Academic freedom and the future of Europe

Michael Ignatieff is a university professor, writer and former politician. He is currently the Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest.

Academy freedom and university autonomy are under attack these days as the privileges of a professorial elite, but they should be understood as ‘countermajoritarian institutions’ – like a free press and an independent judiciary – an essential counterbalance to majority rule. Across Europe, counter-majoritarian institutions are under pressure from populist movements and parties seeking to mobilise ‘the people’ against the press, the courts – and universities too. How do universities defend themselves? What arguments will convince a sceptical public? How do universities rebuild the public support they need in order to sustain their role as counter-majoritarian institutions?

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Published on 9 August 2018