UCC launches academic freedom module

University responds to call from President Michael D. Higgins

Tuesday 18th January – Students and Staff at University College Cork (UCC) can now avail of a dedicated module on academic freedom, as UCC becomes the first university in Ireland to respond to a call from President Michael D. Higgins to ensure students understand the nature and role of universities in society. 

In 2021, the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins called on universities to “teach a module on the nature and role of the university, including the cornerstone of academic freedom, to every incoming university student, raising awareness of the important of such freedom.”

Now UCC will be offering such a module – The Idea of the University and the Value of Academic Freedom – which contains insights from academics across the university, with 12 seminars within the course focusing on a range of political, historical, and social topics around universities and academic freedom. 

Speaking ahead of an information session about the module, the module coordinator, Dr Angela Flynn stated, “We have responded to the call from President Higgins because we recognise the critical importance of protecting academic freedom and of providing an opportunity to fully understand the value and role of the university. Around the world, we can see numerous examples of attacks on academic institutions, on educators and on the freedom of academics to teach, write, and research freely. We are privileged to live in relative freedom wherein we can raise concerns, take critical positions, and challenge dominant orthodoxies. Many of our colleagues around the world are in far more precarious positions. We hope this module will provide the space where these freedoms and values can be fully explored and discussed allowing diverse intellectual discussions to take place”

The module has been created by a working group of UCC’s Academic Council made up of Dr Flynn, Prof Kieran Keohane, and the Academic Secretary & Assistant Registrar, Mr Paul O’Donovan. The module starts on Wednesday 26th January at 6pm and will be delivered using a hybrid model (in person in UCC and online via MS Teams) over 11 weeks. 


An information session about the module will be held on Wednesday 19th at 6pm in West Wing 6. 


More information on the course can be found https://reg.ucc.ie/curriculum/modules?mod=UW0008