U-Minn profs: Academic freedom on the line

The big test?

MPR’s Tim Post has this report on how some faculty at the University of Minnesota are on edge over academic freedom after the pulling of the Troubled Waters environmental film — even though some say the U has a solid track record of backing up its researchers.

The film has since been given the green light for its original Bell Museum debut, but a professor who co-chairs a faculty committee on academic freedom said the incident has a chilling effect on researchers.

She tells Post:

“It certainly raised concerns for me,” she said. “It could very well be a violation of our academic freedom policy and then that raises the next question: What do we do about it and what do we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Yet Post reports that some researchers said they’ve never seen evidence that outside influence affects the work they do.

One professor in the department of bio-products and bio-systems engineering said he has gotten angry emails from agriculture commodity groups about his published research — and has been backed up all the way by university administration.

“The whole chain has in many ways stuck up for the research I’ve done and has encouraged me to continue what I’m doing. No one would ever interfere with the scientific product of an investigator here.”

You can read Post’s full report — and get audio — here.