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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



Academic Freedom in Africa: 25 Years after the Kampala Declaration: Issues, Challenges and Prospects

Deadline: 31 August, 2015

Call for Papers
International Conference
Academic Freedom in Africa: 25 Years after the Kampala Declaration
Issues, Challenges and Prospects
27-28 November 2015, Kampala, Uganda

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the organization from 27 to 28 November 2015 in Kampala, Uganda of an international conference themed: “Academic Freedom in Africa: 25 years after the Kampala Declaration. Challenges, Issues and Prospects.” This conference fits within the framework of CODESRIA’s Academic Freedom Programme. This programme started with the adoption in November 1990 of the Kampala Declaration, which states, among others, that “every African intellectual has the right to exercise freely intellectual activity, including research and dissemination of research results, provided he/she respects the principles of scientific research and ethical and universally recognized professional standards.”
This meeting will bring together African and Diaspora scholars and researchers who have a particular interest in issues related to academic freedom. In addition to the reflections and debates that this community may wish to undertake, the conference seeks to assess the evolution of academic freedom in Africa over the 25 years after the Kampala Declaration. The Kampala Declaration was an important step in enhancing public awareness of the complaints of African academics regarding the conditions of production and dissemination of knowledge. It revealed the linkages between the struggle for the establishment of these conditions and the broader issue of democratization of African societies. Since then, this statement has been used as an important ethical and academic benchmark, but also as an essential tool to claim better teaching and research conditions in African universities. Since the adoption of the Kampala Declaration, the issue of academic freedom has been at the heart of much debate in academic circles, and its importance is well established among the academic community.

The Declaration also contributed to generating an unprecedented impetus to activities around academic freedom, either organized by the Council or by universities and research institutions in Africa. As such, CODESRIA has organized more than ten conferences and scientific workshops, published dozens of books and scientific reports, and provided support to academics and researchers experiencing difficulties. However, the debate on the very concept of academic freedom or its content remains unabated. Some advocate a return to a more orthodox and restrictive approach to academic freedom, by defining it as a right and a duty that must be exercised in the university stetting; conversely, others understand academic freedom as a concept related to the exercise of citizenship and, consequently, with a view to defending the freedom of expression of citizens. The question that therefore arises is to find out what is the most appropriate option from such a constantly changing context.

Today, 25 years after its adoption, it is appropriate to take stock of the opportunity of such a document, ask questions about the conditions of its implementation and its effectiveness in a rapidly changing world. Although the conditions of knowledge production and dissemination have taken a turn for the better, the challenges that remain are important. We still see, although prohibited, violations of academic freedom by political leaders supposed to ensure compliance with regulations in force. Moreover, academics continue to be prosecuted for expressing critical opinions or contrary to those of the ruling powers or of the dominant social order. The conditions of knowledge production in general and the rights of academics and researchers, in particular, remain major challenges. Among these, there is the need to articulate the university reforms of academic freedom. Indeed, the reforms have not only a technical component, but also aspects relating to the content and programme format, etc. Compared to the latter, it would be important to ponder over the restrictions imposed by the market and market reforms.
_ On the other hand, new threats surface, the size, scope and contours of which should be questioned and analysed with greater acuity. Fundamentalisms that are expressed in different ways and the challenges they impose on us, for example, affect the content of teachings, academics’ freedom of movement, etc. Thus, the old challenges that persist seem to add up to new ones resulting from changes undergone by the higher education system over the last twenty years, but also at global level, changes that have taken place in African societies at both political, social and economic levels. What are these new challenges and new threats? What are the interactions between the old and new restrictions? In such a context, which are for example the standard-bearers of academic freedom in Africa and what are the possibilities of concerted action for the defence and promotion of academic freedom on the continent and its academic diasporic communities?
Through this conference, CODESRIA seeks to pursue a work that has already begun in various publications including most recently the Pax Academica journal: the issue is to assess the relevance of instruments and strategies developed and implemented about twenty years ago. The conference will also be an opportunity to revisit key issues related to various approaches, concepts and research tools on academic freedom and social responsibility of academics and researchers.

The key thrusts, non-exclusive, agreed upon for this meeting are:
1. National and comparative approaches to the exercise of academic freedom;
2. Academic freedoms: assessment;
3. Academics’ social and political responsibilities;
4. Academic Freedom, religious and political fundamentalism;
5. Dissent, repression and freedom of expression;
6. African diasporic academics and academic freedom;

Critical revision of the Kampala Declaration and prospects for it its implementation.
People wishing to attend this meeting must send to CODESRIA their full papers. in “Times New Roman” font, size 12, single spaced) relating to the general theme of the conference. Papers should be sent by email to CODESRIA Secretariat by 31 August 2015 and must include an abstract in French and English, five key words, the title of the proposal, the contact details and affiliation of the author. . An independent selection committee will review the applications and selected authors who will be invited to submit the final version of their paper for the conference no later than 30 September, 2015.

Abstracts, final research proposals and any questions should be sent to the following address:

Academic Freedom and Human Rights Programme
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop x Canal IV
BP : 3304, CP : 18524, Dakar, Senegal
Email: academic.freedom@codesria.sn

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