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Inventing Academic Freedom
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Inventing Academic Freedom

The 1968 Strax Affair at the University of New Brunswick

By Peter C. Kent

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In 1968, there was political ferment everywhere. In Paris, students were in the streets. In the U.S., civil rights, the Vietnam War, and protests against the draft brought out millions. In this atmosphere, a young Jewish-American professor in the quiet town of Fredericton, New Brunswick sparked a controversy that established the principles of academic freedom on Canadian campuses.

Norman Strax was an unlikely figure in a conservative town with a sleepy university campus. He didn't dress like other faculty members, he drove a funny car, and he didn't socialize much with his colleagues. The university president, Colin Mackay, was a young scion of the local establishment who ran the university as if it belonged to him. With his links to Lord Beaverbrook, the Irvings, and the provincial government, he was confident of support for his paternalistic way of doing things.

When Strax and some students protested a new library regulation, Colin Mackay abruptly suspended Strax from his teaching position. A sit-in followed, and the university dragged Strax into court. Before long, the provincial government and the judiciary were involved. So were university professors across Canada. In the end, the Strax Affair was the catalyst for a new approach to governance at Canadian universities and was key to establishing the principles of academic freedom.

Cast of Characters
Abbreviations Used in the Text

Chapter 1: “Let’s Play Bookie-Book”
Chapter 2: A University for the Twentieth Century
Chapter 3: Sources of Student Radicalism at UNB
Chapter 4: From the Campus to the Courts
Chapter 5: The Anarchism of Liberation 130
Chapter 6: Increasing Tensions
Chapter 7: The Ballad of Tom Murphy
Chapter 8: The Road to Censure
Chapter 9: Censured!
Chapter 10: Lifting the Censure
Chapter 11: The Arrival of the Corporate University

Image Credits

PETER C. KENT was at the centre of the Strax affair as assistant to the president at the University of New Brunswick. For this book, he has interviewed many of the key participants as well as undertaking extensive archival research. A former dean and professor of history, Kent's area of speciality is the history of modern Catholicism. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 224 pages
Publication Date: 25th September 2012
ISBN: 9781459501485
Format: 9in x 6in
20 b&w illustrations

Binding: Electronic book text, 224 pages
Publication Date: 26th September 2012
ISBN: 9781459501508
Format: EPUB
20 b&w illustrations

Binding: Electronic book text
Publication Date: 24th September 2012
ISBN: 9781459501492
Format: EPUB

BISAC Code:  EDU015000, EDU016000, HIS006020
Imprint: Formac


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