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Academics condemn silencing of scientists over Russian invasion

- University World News

Professor Lynn Morris says universities 'value independent inquiry, intellectual excellence, integrity, and academic freedom and institutional autonomy'.

Academics have condemned an alleged instruction by an official from South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to muzzle scientists over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, University World News reports.

... News of the attempt to muzzle South African scientists expressing themselves on the Russian invasion was published by global research and policy publication Research Professional News.

The publication wrote that public science organisations were instructed via e-mail on 1 March by a senior DSI official to not comment in public on the invasion.

Staff members at the department, as well as science bodies, including the National Research Foundation and the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, were told that they “should not engage in any action of any kind which could be construed as a political commentary or political reaction to the developments in Ukraine” ...

"At no time will Wits muzzle its researchers, scientists or academics"

Professor Lynn Morris, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at Wits University

Professor Lynn Morris, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of research and innovation of the University of the Witwatersrand, said she was dismayed at the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and sympathised with all those impacted by the war.

Morris said Wits University values the right of its staff and students to have their voices heard and to publicly express their views, without fear or favour, adding that members of the university have roles as public intellectuals, members of the global civil society, and as intellectual leaders, and the ability to partake in robust engagement.

“We value independent inquiry and trust, intellectual excellence and integrity, and academic freedom and institutional autonomy … in light of these commitments and values, at no time will Wits muzzle its researchers, scientists or academics or abide by or support any institutional or governmental call to do so."

She said Wits executives are actively working through local and international organisations to express their views on freedom of speech, academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

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