A Delinquent Account


  • W. H. Locke Anderson






The American Economic Association, now more than a century old, has always taken an interest in teaching in general and the teaching of economics in particular. Its annual meetings periodically include "round table discussions" on these matters. In the early years, one of the main themes was whether teachers ought openly to air their views on questions of public interest, both inside and outside the university. At a formal and explicit level, it was recognized that the issue is complex, involving not simply the civil rights of individual teachers, but also the integrity and effectiveness of higher education. It was also clearly recognized that the security of intellectuals against the assaults of both the dominant and popular classes was at risk. The Association participated actively in public discussions of the matter, and in 1915 it provided three members (including Richard Ely, its leading and most controversial founder) to a panel established by the newly-formed American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to study academic freedom and tenure. Several other members were from history and sociology, making social scientists the overwhelming majority of the committee, explicitly recognizing the particularly delicate position of those academics whose subject matter is closely intertwined with the ideological aspects of class struggle.

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