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“Science must be defended horizontally”

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The University of Hamburg has published a “Code of Academic Freedom”. Is this freedom so bad? No, says the lead author, but urges caution.

Would Bernd Lucke deserve more solidarity? Yes, says law professor Hans-Heinrich Trute. It’s not okay to yell at a teacher during a lecture. Not even if he is one of the founders of the AfD. Our file photo shows the economist Lucke during the protests against his return to the University of Hamburg in October 2019. © Markus Scholz / dpa

Nowhere else in the world is academic freedom as good as in Germany. At least that is the result of the “Academic Freedom Index” produced by the universities of Erlangen and Gothenburg. However, there have always been heated controversies about individual professors, even at the University of Hamburg. The university was one of the first in Germany to publish a “Code of Academic Freedom”. A conversation with law professor Hans-Heinrich Truete, who headed the commission, on the question of whether academic freedom is in jeopardy and, if so, by whom.

ZEIT ONLINE: Mr. True, together with colleagues from the University of Hamburg, you Code of Scientific Freedom written. Why is this paper needed?

Hans-Heinrich Truete, 69, is a professor of public law, media law and telecommunications. He also publishes on the topic of academic freedom, such as the book “The Public Nature of Science under Assault.” © UHH /​ Esfandiari

Hans Heinrich true: The “need” is such a thing: paper is not needed because academic freedom is in the wrong direction and we urgently need to set an example. But there were always occasions to initiate a process of self-affirmation in matters of academic freedom. Because in principle everyone is in favor of academic freedom, but how it is stated is no longer so consensual.

ZEIT ONLINE: Let’s review some specific cases that have caused a sensation in recent years. The first: Thomas Rauscher, a law professor at the University of Leipzig, wrote on a Twitter account that bore his name but made no reference to his university work, among other things, that a “white Europe” was a “wonderful goal.” . The students protested against the man. He was then fired by the law school against his will as the commissioner for international students. Has anyone violated academic freedom here?

Turkey: No. Freedom of expression applies to a private Twitter account. However, the civil service law establishes a duty of restraint for public officials. If this was violated it must be clarified by the disciplinary law. By the way, it is perfectly legitimate for teachers to decide who represents them, even in the case of students who may not correspond to the idea of ​​”white Europe”. All this has little to do with science.

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