According to the American Association of University Professors, academic freedom describes the freedom of an educator to “investigate and discuss the issues in his or her academic field, and to teach or publish findings without interference from political figures, boards of trustees, donors, or other entities.”1 To protect the academic freedom of faculty members, Sonoran Desert Institute ensures that:
- Faculty members’ contributions to the student’s learning environment, including posts to threaded discussions, feedback on student submissions, live and/or asynchronous lectures (whether in writing or by audio/video recording), as well as participation in institutional discourse regarding the strategic mission or core values of Sonoran Desert Institute, shall be free from censure based on political or religious beliefs.
- Leadership at Sonoran Desert Institute shall not impose upon faculty members to include messages of a political, religious, philosophical, or moral nature in their contributions to the learning environment.
- Notwithstanding Sonoran Desert Institute’s position on academic freedom, faculty members are expected to always conduct themselves professionally. Threatening, demeaning, or abusive language, as well as language of a graphic nature, shall not be tolerated, whether while participating in an online classroom or in other workplace discussions or exchanges.
- No part of Sonoran Desert Institute’s Policy on Academic Freedom shall protect a faculty member from knowingly disseminating, whether in writing or verbally, information that is objectively and patently false regarding a taught subject.
Sonoran Desert Institute’s Academic Governance Council directs the position of all SDI programs on matters of academic philosophy, pedagogical strategy, and scholastic standards. The council defines the Institute’s academic vision and strategic academic priorities while ensuring adherence to the currently accepted best practices of learning theory and educational psychology. Additionally, the Academic Governance Council ensures that SDI complies with all academic standards of accreditation and external oversight.
It is the duty of the Academic Governance Council to represent the voice, concerns, and feedback of all faculty at SDI, in the consideration of curriculum, programmatic vision, and institutional strategy and direction.
The Academic Governance Council at Sonoran Desert Institute is comprised of the senior academic leaders at SDI, including the vice president of academic affairs and all deans. If SDI adopts new senior academic officials or positions (additional deans, provosts, etc.), those officials shall, ipso facto, become members of this council.