Affirming the Importance of Academic Freedom within the Classroom:
Legislation prohibiting the teaching of gender, sexuality, and race limits academic freedom within classrooms. The National Communication Association (NCA) recognizes that the passage and proposal of laws and policies in a dozen states regarding curricula has a broader chilling effect that curtails the effective teaching, learning, and practice of communication in areas such as critical race theory (CRT). As the preeminent scholarly society devoted to the study and teaching of Communication, with more than a dozen member groups devoted to gender, sexuality, and race, NCA affirms its support for Communication scholars who teach in these areas and affirms its commitment to academic freedom because such freedom strengthens institutional inclusion, diversity, equity, and access, and advances principles of democracy.
The classroom is a space of intellectual growth where teachers and students build knowledge to solve human problems, to become informed citizens, and to create a more just society. Prohibiting “uncomfortable” conversations about identity and history does not erase inequality. It does deprive students of meaningful opportunities to engage in robust discussions with trained professionals. While such classroom conversations are necessarily challenging, they are well-founded in empirical and philosophical research and can serve to foster cultural competency as well as the development of solutions to racial and social injustice.
Free and ethical communication is a foundation of American democracy. The Communication Studies program at Utah State University joins the National Communication Association in rejecting laws and policies that threaten academic freedom and undermine democracy.