University of the Commons is an online education platform that advocates for academic freedom and open education. We aim at providing a free space for scholars-at-risk to teach their classes regardless of where they are and help them offer their content to a broader learning community. We maintain that academic freedom and open education are mutually supporting principles and their joint implementations call for innovative practices. While Open Educational Resources (OERs) such as massive open online course platforms enable academics to freely pursue teaching and research that is otherwise often constrained by traditional institutional frameworks and political pressures, academics with untethered autonomy can also contribute to the causes of open education.
Broadly construed, academic freedom is the freedom of the faculty members and students to research, teach, learn and express their opinions without being constrained or penalized by their peers or authorities. By protecting the autonomy of the faculty and students, academic freedom provides a space of free inquiry and speech that furthers individual and public knowledge, and empowers people beyond the reach of authorities.
Professor Tian Belawati defines open education as “based on the belief that education and knowledge are public goods and that everyone has the right to access quality education. Open education, therefore, emphasizes the importance of system flexibility to minimize hindrances of access due to aspects related to place, time, economy, geography and age.