Society of Architectural Historians Statement on Academic Freedom

by SAH News | May 03, 2023
PDF Statement

Architectural historians advance public discourse on the built environment and promote informed discussion of the histories, meanings, and values it embodies. Often this involves challenging interpretations that are reductive or unfounded and calling attention to more expansive or alternative narratives through teaching, research, exhibitions, and public scholarship.

This responsibility cannot be fulfilled without the full protection of academic freedom. The American Association of University Professors has long affirmed that “the common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.” At a moment when the very notion of truth is being obfuscated in political discourse, the work of scholars is being undercut by calls from both outside and inside the academic community to suppress certain points of view and to shield students from content they might find disagreeable. The chilling atmosphere threatening to stifle scholarly inquiry has especially serious consequences for those whose position in the academy is already precarious, including contingent or adjunct faculty, who account for an increasing share of the profession.

In view of these current pressures, the Board of Directors of SAH reaffirms our support for freedom of inquiry for both faculty and students, and our opposition to all forms of academic censorship, intimidation, and retaliation. We believe that an academic culture of robust interchange is vital to sustaining an intellectual and civic realm in which ideas, including dissenting ones, can flourish. We embrace SAH’s ongoing role as a forum for open debate on all matters concerning the history of the built environment.

Approved by the SAH Board of Directors on April 12, 2023.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610