Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship

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Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship
(Society for Academic Freedom
and Scholarship logo)
Founded 1992
  • 344-673 Richmond Street
    London, Ontario N6G 2N3
Area served
Key people
Clive Seligman (President)
Doreen Kimura (Past President)
John Furedy (Past President)
Slogan Maintaining freedom in teaching, research and scholarship

The Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS) is a non-profit organization founded to promote academic freedom and intellectual excellence on Canadian university campuses. Although its membership is open to the general public, the society is composed mainly of faculty and students from Canadian universities.[1]


Founded in the early 1990s to defend intellectual freedom and to promote academic excellence, the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship has been in continuous existence since 1992. It has published a regular newsletter (the Society for Academic Freedom & Scholarship Newsletter, later renamed the SAFS Newsletter) containing articles relating to issues in higher education since May of that year.[2]

The founding purposes of the society were

  • to resist the ideological misuse of teaching and scholarship,
  • to support rigorous standards in research and teaching in university hiring practices, and
  • to preserve academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, regardless of popular doctrine.[3]

Over time these goals have evolved so that, in its more recent publicity, the society now lists its main purposes as being

  • the maintaining of freedom in teaching, research and scholarship, and
  • the maintaining of high standards of excellence in academic decision making concerning both students and faculty.[4]

The society is financed solely by membership fees and voluntary donations.[5]


Throughout its history, SAFS has been vocal in its opposition to policies it believes are inconsistent with the goals of an open, meritocratic, academic community. It is in this context that it has spoken out against campus speech codes, hate-speech legislation, and affirmative action in university hiring.[6] The society has also aspired to promote reasoned debate on a wide range of cases and issues relating to academic freedom and scholarship more broadly.[7]

In the words of one commentator, the society is composed primarily of “accomplished, disinterested, ruthlessly honest academics united in visceral contempt for those of their peers who are willing to bend and manipulate the truth to serve their ideological ends.”[8]

Much of the society’s correspondence concerning cases it has been involved with is publicly available at the society’s official website.[9] Unlike some other non-profit societies with similar goals, SAFS has been as much concerned with the academic freedom of university students as it has with university faculty.[10]

For several years the society recognized important contributions to academic freedom through the Furedy Academic Freedom Award. Established by John and Chris Furedy in honour of Bela and Dusi Furedy, the award recognized members of the university community, both students and faculty, who have championed academic freedom.[11]

Keynote speakers at the society's Annual General Meetings have included Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, National Post columnist Barbara Kay, Canadian Association of University Teachers executive director James Turk, National Association of Scholars presidents Stephen Balch and Peter Wood, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education presidents Alan Kors and Greg Lukianoff, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms president John Carpay, Canadian Constitution Foundation litigation director Karen Selick, York University historian Jack Granatstein and Concordia University rector and vice-chancellor Frederick Lowy.

Board of Directors[edit]

The current Board of Directors is composed as follows:[12]

  • Clive Seligman, PhD; University of Western Ontario (President, since 2000)
  • Rodney Clifton, PhD; University of Manitoba
  • Tom Flanagan, PhD, FRSC; University of Calgary
  • Andrew Irvine, PhD; University of British Columbia
  • Steve Lupker, PhD; University of Western Ontario
  • Mark Mercer, PhD; Saint Mary’s University
  • John Mueller, PhD; University of Calgary
  • Peter Suedfeld, PhD, FRSC; University of British Columbia

Past Presidents[edit]

Past Presidents of the society are as follows:[13]

  • Doreen Kimura, PhD, FRSC; Simon Fraser University (1992-93, 1998-2000)
  • John Furedy, PhD; University of Toronto (1993-98)


  1. ^ Society for Academic Freedom & Scholarship Newsletter, Number 62, September 2012, p. 2
  2. ^ Society for Academic Freedom & Scholarship Newsletter, Number 1, May 1992, p. 1
  3. ^ Society for Academic Freedom & Scholarship Newsletter, Number 1, May 1992, p. 1
  4. ^ SAFS History (official website)
  5. ^ SAFS History (official website)
  6. ^ About SAFS (official website)
  7. ^ SAFS Issues & Cases (official website)
  8. ^ Barbara Kay, “Feminism is still assaulting academia”, National Post, 20 May 2009
  9. ^ SAFS Issues & Cases (official website)
  10. ^ SAFS Issues & Cases (official website)
  11. ^ SAFS Furedy Award (official website)
  12. ^ SAFS Board of Directors (official website)
  13. ^ SAFS Board of Directors (official website)

External links[edit]

  • SAFS (official website)