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Mark Mercer is a dedicated member of the Society of Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), an organization with a 31-year history of advocating for academic freedom. Having served as SAFS president for 8 years, Mark’s commitment to the organization is unwavering, and he envisions being a part of it for the rest of his life. With around 350 members, primarily academics in Canada, SAFS actively defends academic freedom and standards by writing letters to universities when they perceive violations or threats. Their documentation is made available online to foster transparency and open dialogue.
Mark holds a critical view of the current state of society, recognizing that professors and students are often afraid to express their opinions due to potential backlash. He believes there are points of friction within universities, where rules are increasingly influenced by emotions rather than facts. Despite this, he emphasizes the importance of respecting moral autonomy and engaging in conversations, even when beliefs differ.
Universities should prioritize creating spaces where individuals can freely express their beliefs and receive constructive critique. Mark sees this as a matter of respect. He firmly believes that a person’s views, theories, or ideas should not hinder their eligibility for administrative roles. Instead, qualifications and abilities should determine suitability.
Acknowledging the value of criticism, Mark advocates for upholding high academic standards to ensure students receive the best education possible.
To improve, Mark stresses the need to articulate what an academic university truly represents. He believes in individuals’ ability and desire to think for themselves, rather than being bound by group affiliations. His vision involves creating a culture of disputation, where ideas are shared, stored, and learned from, rather than fostering confrontations and competition between students. This approach aims to prevent ideas from being isolated and looked down upon, fostering inclusivity and intellectual growth.
Join us and listen to what Mark has to share.
Please note the views expressed by the individual(s) in this video are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views or principles of the First Freedoms Foundation.
Check out Mark’s Website, His LinkedIn, and the SAFS website below!
Mark’s Website: https://professormarkmercer.ca/
SAFS Website: https://safs.ca/