In January 2024 we will have launch meetings for new AFAF branches – including Dublin Universities AFAF.
At the 3rd Buxton Battle of Ideas Festival on Saturday 25 November, There were debates on cancel culture, education or indoctrination, hate speech and more. As well as an AFAF stall we launched a new AFAF Branch – Welcome Sheffield Universities AFAF!
*AFAF Annual Conference*
We held our first UK conference on Saturday 11 November 2023 from 13.00-17.00 at City, University of London, hosted by the City AFAF Branch. Keynote speakers: James Murray, employment, and higher education lawyer at Taylor Vinters, and one of the architects of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act, and Baroness Claire Fox, Director of the Academy of Ideas. This was a free, invitation only, event for members of the AFAF Network and Branches who have signed the AFAF Statement of Academic Freedom. We have over 50 attendees. We will return to City, University of London for our Annual Conference in 2024.
Sean Parker wrote a personal account of the day on his Substack.
AFAF at the Battle of Ideas
There was a packed panel discussion about AFAF and the work of our branches at the Battle of Ideas Festival, in London, on Saturday 28 October (13.45-14.30). There was an AFAF stall at the event throughout the weekend.
Derby AFAF – on Wednesday 18 October at 13.00 there was be a public talk at the University of Derby. The speaker is Professor Dennis Hayes who will talk about ‘Free Speech on Campus: the leading role of AFAF’. Free, but external guests had to register with the branch.
Staff at Canterbury Christ Church University – some of whom are Canterbury and Kent AFAF supporters -organised a public talk by Professor Alice Sullivan on Wednesday 18 October at 18.00 at Canterbury Christ Church University.
Buckingham AFAF are holding the second in their Free Speech Seminar Series on Wednesday 11 October (18.00-19.30) at the University of Buckingham. The speaker is Professor Anthony O’Hear who will discuss How ‘my truth’ militates against free speech. Free, but please register in advance.
Manchester AFAF and Birmingham AFAF are holding informal get togethers, details from AFAF.
Liverpool AFAF: Wednesday 14 June at 16.30 – Founding Meeting
Nottingham Universities AFAF: Monday 12 June at 14.00 – Founding Meeting
Buckingham AFAF event: Wednesday 7 June at 18.00 The first in a series of Buckingham Free Speech Seminars Free Speech in a Time of Woke Speaker: Joanna Williams.
Edinburgh AFAF event: Saturday 20 May at 14.00 Academic Freedom and the Law the speaker was: Akua Reindorf KC.
Derby AFAF branch meeting: Wednesday 10 May at 13.30 Academic Freedom: a feminist sociological perspective the speaker was: Professor Alice Sullivan.
Edinburgh AFAF: A screening of the film Adult Human Female on Wednesday 26 April was stopped by an aggressive mob once again. A future showing is being organised by the branch.
City University AFAF: Wednesday 19 April at 13.00 – Founding Meeting
University of Manchester AFAF: Wednesday 26 April at 13.30 – Founding Meeting
On Thursday 19 March, Advisory Board Member, Dr Julia Gasper gave a talk at the East Midlands Salon entitled: Censorship in the Eighteenth Century and Now.
University of Buckingham AFAF branch: was formed on 23 January.
On Friday 13 January 2023, AFAF Director, Professor Dennis Hayes, and Advisory Board Member, Vanessa Pupavac, joined in a panel debate ‘Is academic freedom under that?’ at the University of Hull.
On Saturday 19 November in Glasgow was a conference on Education not Indoctrination (10.30-17.00) organised by Advisory Board members Penny Lewis and Stuart Waiton (along with others).
On Monday 14 November the Derby Branch of AFAF discussed ‘What is academic freedom?’ The seminar was introduced by advisory board member, Dr Vanessa Pupavac.
At the Buxton Battle of Ideas Festival on Saturday 5 November, in the magnificent Devonshire Dome, there are two free speech debates: Free Speech in Crisis: Can we take a joke? and Call to Courage: is anything worth fighting for?
On Wednesday 2 November at 18.00, Dennis Hayes spoke about The Importance of Academic Freedom at Canterbury Christ Church University CCCU). This talk, organised by Advisory Board member, Jim Butcher, was the subject to a censorious letter to the VC of CCCU. Read the text of the talk here.
On Sunday, 16 October, at the Battle of Ideas Festival, Dennis Hayes discussed Winning Young Hearts and Minds: the battle for academic freedom (17.25 – 18 30)
On Saturday, 15 October, at the Battle of Ideas Festival in London, Advisory Board member, Professor James Tooley, discussed Lawfare: the use and abuse of the law to fight for freedom (Saturday 14.45 – 16.15)
Several Advisory Board members also spoke at the Battle of Ideas Festival. View the full programme here.
AFAF Advisory Board member and comic author Jem Vanston gave a talk at the East Midlands Salon entitled: The University: no laughing matter.
AFAF sponsored a panel debate at the Buxton Battle of Ideas festival held in the magnificent Devonshire Dome, in Buxton, Derbyshire, on Saturday 30 October. At 14.55, Dennis Hayes (AFAF), Andy Shaw (Comedy Unleashed), and Sophie Watson (Free Speech Champions) and Adam Whittaker (Beauty in the Universe) discussed ‘Should we cancel Cancel culture?‘. Ella Whelan was the Chair.
Professor Dennis Hayes and Professor Eric Kaufmann debated the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill live on Andrew Doyle’s Free Speech Nation programme on GN News on 10 October. It was filmed at the Battle of Ideas Festival in Church House, Westminster, London.
Professor Dennis Hayes was a speaker at a panel discussion organised by Dont Divide Us on Tuesday 21 September to discuss the implications for free speech of the ‘Race Equality Charter’ produced by Advance HE for UK universities.
Professor Dennis Hayes talked about The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education in the ‘Uncancelled’ segment of the Mark Dolan Show on GB News on Saturday 11 September.
Professor Dennis Hayes talked about free speech and the therapeutic turn in education on GB News on Thursday 5 August at 17.45.
AFAF sponsored a discussion on whether the government’s Free Speech Bill will effectively challenge campus censorship at the Battle of Ideas festival Open for Debate day on Saturday 31 July at Church House, Westminster, London.
Professor Dennis Hayes chaired a discussion with Oxbridge academics, Arif Ahmed, David Butterfield and Paul Yowell on ‘Defending academic freedom: culture and governance’ at the online forum Academic Freedom Under Threat organised by Taylor Vinters and The University of Buckingham on Friday 19 March.
Professor Dennis Hayes and Professor Eric Kaufmann debated ‘UK Government’s Free Speech Champion: Hero or Oxymoron?‘ at the first Free Speech Champions ‘Drop In’ workshop on Thursday 11 March.
Professor Dennis Hayes was the UK respondent to the new Freedom to Learn policy paper from the National Association of Scholars (US) at an international online event held on Wednesday 13 January.
Professor Dennis Hayes introduced a discussion about Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 at the AoI Book Club (online) on 30 July: Who are today’s firemen and what are they burning?
Seminar: Is ‘toxic masculinity’ dangerous in the academy? (the third in a series of three Battle of Ideas Satellite events on ‘The Silencing of Speech’, sponsored by AFAF)
On Thursday 14 December, Elizabeth Hobson, communications director of the political party Justice For Men and Boys (J4MB), discussed what she sees as a new diminished sense of what it means to be a man today. Responding to her talk was Dr Nicholas Joseph, a parent of two girls and a lecturer at the Universities of Derby and Keele. The Chair was Dr Vanessa Pupavac (University of Nottingham). Details on the East Midlands Salon website.
Seminar: By esrasing the past are we racilising the campus? (the second in a series of three Battle of Ideas Satellite events on ‘The Silencing of Speech’, sponsored by AFAF)
On Thursday 28 November at 7PM Dr Jim Butcher (Canterbury Christ Church University) and Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler (University of Derby) explored the background to decolonising the curriculum and the dangers thst this approach may present for the future of education. Folasade Lamikanra, a writer and education researcher, chaired the debate. Details on the East Midlands Salon website.
Seminar: The dangerous rise of academic mobbing (the first in a series of three Battle of Ideas Satellite events on ‘The Silencing of Speech’, sponsored by AFAF)
On Thursday 17 October at 7 PM in Derby, Professor Nigel Biggar (Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford) gave a talk about his work and being subject to an international campaign to close down his five-year ‘Ethics and Empire’ project which sought to have a balanced assessment of colonialism. Details on the East Midlands Salon website.
On Thursday 12 September, Professor Dennis Hayes gave a keynote talk at the Higher Education Institutional Research Conference 2019, held at the University of Wolverhampton, on ‘How the university lost its way: sixteen threats to academic freedom‘.
On 26 June 2019 Professor Dennis Hayes presented a short provocation at the Midlands HE Policy Network Meeting at the University of Wolverhampton, based on the decline of academic freedom, entitled: ‘Is the The University is dead?‘
On 20 June, at the East Midlands Salon in Derby, Professor Dennis Hayes will talk about the ‘therapeutic university’ and the ‘snowflake generation’ and their implications for academic freedom.
On the 15 November 2017 Professor Dennis Hayes, Dr. Joanna Williams (Kent) and Tom Slater (Spiked) successfully defended the Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) methodology and findings after being called to present evidence to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Professor Dennis Hayes will be discussing Groupthink Universities with Noah Carl (University of Oxford), Nick Hillman (Director, HEPI), Paul A. Taylor (University of Leeds) and Cathy Young (US journalist and commentator) at the Battle of Ideas festival at the Barbican on Saturday 28 October (Cinema 3 10 AM).
Professor Dennis Hayes will argue for the proposition ‘This house regrets no platforming policies in universities’ at the Warwick Debating Union on Thursday 26 October at 7 PM.
Professor Dennis Hayes will be speaking on ‘What is the purpose of a university?’ at Abertay University on Wednesday 20 September.
Professor Dennis Hayes spoke at the Festival of Higher Education 2017 at the University of Buckingham on Thursday 29 June at 2.50 in the Marquee on Free Speech on Campus; Rights and Responsibilities. Respondent: Professor Anthony Glees, Director, Centre for Security & Intelligence Studies, University of Buckingham. Chair: Professor Sue Edwards, University of Buckingham.
Dennis’s speech was widely reported in the national press, including the Telegraph, Independent and many local papers. He appeared on ‘High Noon‘ Newstalk Radio, Dublin on Wednesday 5 July (12.00) discussing ‘Safe Spaces’ in universities with George Hook.