Hungary: Freedom of (Social) Science?

In an open letter to Hungary’s Minister of Education Jozsef Bodis, the German Gender Studies Association (Fachgesellschaft Geschlechterstudien) Association protests against a law that seeks to ban the teaching of Gender Studies from Hungarian Universities.

The letter states that

“the Hungarian government recently proposed a law, which would cancel accredited, well-performing Gender Studies MA programmes, one of which has consistently high enrolments since it was founded 2006, the second one has recently been established (2017). Hungarian Gender Studies programmes also participate in European exchange programmes. As a result, many of our German colleagues (as we ourselves) have had the chance to meet Hungarian colleagues and supervise MA as well as PhD students in Gender Studies coming from Hungary to German universities. This exchange practice has led to longstanding academic relationships including research and teaching co-operations. We know our colleagues and are aware of how scientifically thorough and needed their work is.

We write to you today to protest against this decision. Never before has a democratic
government sought to legislate the curriculum of universities without consultation with
appropriate university institutions. […]

We call upon the Minister of Education to refuse this amendment. We also call upon the European Union, of which Hungary is a member nation, to condemn this action as a violation of its principles. And we call upon academic institutions in our own countries to join our protest.”

As a publishing house that publishes in the fields of Gender Studies as part of the Social Sciences and Humanities, we see this kind of government interference into academic freedom as an oppressive act that seems to deny the democratic bases of higher education.

Thus, we support the German Gender Studies Association’s stance, and hope that Hungary will not follow through with this intrusion into the realms of academic freedom.