ESEP 15:23-37 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00163

Tenure and academic freedom in Canada

Michiel Horn*

York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In Canada, a persistent myth of academic life is that tenure was initiated and developed in order to protect academic freedom. However, an examination of the historical record shows that in both its forms—viz. tenure during pleasure, whereby professors could be stripped of their employment if it suited a president and governing board, and tenure during good behavior, whereby professors were secure in their employment unless gross incompetence, neglect of duty, or moral turpitude could be proven against them—the institution took shape as the main defense of academic employment. In this paper, I explore the development of tenure since the middle of the 19th century, and the concepts of academic freedom with which tenure has become closely associated. I also make the case that tenure during good behavior has become a major support of the academic freedom of professors even as that freedom is undergoing new challenges.


KEY WORDS: University of Toronto · Sir Robert Falconer · McGill University · University of British Columbia · University of Manitoba · University of Alberta · Harry S. Crowe · Canadian Association of University Teachers


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Cite this article as: Horn M (2015) Tenure and academic freedom in Canada. Ethics Sci Environ Polit 15:23-37. https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00163

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