, Phi Beta Kappa has championed liberal arts and sciences education — rooted in free inquiry and expression — as essential to a flourishing democracy and vibrant culture.
Today, Phi Beta Kappa serves as a thought leader and advances policies that promote free inquiry as central to the ability of the nation’s universities to create and discover knowledge, transmit that knowledge through teaching, academic scholarship, and participate fully in the discussion and analysis of the most pressing issues facing our nation now.
Liberal arts and sciences education requires academic freedom. Higher education relies on “four essential freedoms” of institutions: “to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.” In the context of shared governance, faculty should retain primary responsibility for coursework, methods of instruction, academic standards, program development, degree requirements, and academic student affairs.
These institutional freedoms are fundamental to the creation and discovery of knowledge, the transmission of that knowledge to the next generation through teaching and learning, and the establishment and safeguarding of a democratic society.
Ultimately, academic freedom matters to all Americans by cultivating the intellectual habits required to become and remain a self-governing people. In this work, we are privileged to work alongside our network of members, chapters, associations, and other supporters. Learn more
key actions that the Society has taken to advance academic freedom throughout our organization’s history.
Phi Beta Kappa on Academic Freedom