Know the limitations of academic freedom in higher education

Academic Freedom and Free Speech: What You Need to Know

Academic freedom might give faculty license to say (or write) almost anything they please, but there are limits. And crossing over those boundaries can invite serious repercussions.

We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t free speech ultimately what tenure is all about? How can academic freedom be that complicated?

Blame it on Garcetti v. Ceballos, the 2006 U.S. Supreme Court case that established that when public employees, while acting within the scope of their employment, criticize their superiors, they are not protected by the First Amendment. The opinion suggested that faculty might be included, and a number of lower courts have interpreted the ruling both in favor of and against faculty.

So where does that leave us? First and foremost, we now know that it isn’t safe to assume that the First Amendment will protect faculty and staff from all lawsuits, personnel actions, and other negative consequences. The same goes for private-school faculty and administrators, as there are limitations to free speech that affect them as well.

Ultimately the main lesson that Garcetti v. Ceballos teaches is that all instructors and administrators need to know the meaning and limitations of terms such as “free speech” and “academic freedom.” If you’re wrong—or even just a little off—you could put yourself or your faculty and staff in a precarious position.

Find out what you can say and what you can’t with a copy of Academic Freedom and Free Speech: What You Need to Know. This 60-minute seminar will familiarize you with the current state of the law, legal definitions of academic freedom and free speech, and steps you can take to protect yourself or your faculty and staff.

After watching the seminar, you will be able to:

  • Cite the specifics of the Garcetti v. Ceballos ruling
  • Understand how the ruling might be applied at your institution
  • Reference lower-court rulings that add additional insight and clarity to the issues of free speech and academic freedom
  • Understand the difference between prevailing popular and current legal definitions of free speech and academic freedom
  • Recognize legal limitations of free speech and academic freedom, particularly the behaviors those terms cover and the ones they don’t
  • Identify the steps that individual faculty members should take to protect themselves from legal liability or personnel action under Garcetti
  • Understand other institutional and organizational responses to Garcetti and recognize when and how those responses affect you and your school

Who will benefit:
This seminar is intended for faculty members and administrators from both public and private institutions.

When you order the recording of this seminar on CD, you’ll also receive the complete transcript.

An optional Campus Access License is available for an additional $200. It allows the purchasing institution to upload the CD of the seminar onto the institution’s password-protected internal website for unlimited access by the entire campus community.

Let’s face it. If you wanted to spend your time poring over court cases, you would have gone to law school. Luckily, there’s a better way to understand how cases like Garcetti v. Ceballos affect you and others on your campus. Academic Freedom and Free Speech: What You Need to Know cuts through all the legalese and gives you the information you need to understand and apply the landmark decision and its ramifications.


If you have any questions contact Customer Service at 800-433-0499 or (608) 246-3590 or email us at

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