For Immediate Release:
March 17, 2014

Contact:
Craig Richardson

Richardson@eelegal.org

Washington, D.C. — On April 1, 2014, the National Academy of Sciences and George Washington University Law School will focus a full day seminar on E&E Legal’s litigation against the University of Virginia, brought under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Entitled “The Tension Between Academic Freedom and State Open Records Laws,” the seminar will feature Dr. David W. Schnare, Esq., E&E Legal’s General Counsel and the lead attorney in the Virginia case.

“It is past time for the academic community to realize their responsibilities to the public, to explain what they do and to be held to the ethical standards they profess,” said Dr. Schnare. “This seminar will open the door to a conversation between academia and those who have a right and a responsibility to look behind the ivy covered walls,” he said.

There are two main goals of the April 1 conference. First, the program will inform faculty and the general public that the FOIA laws, which most people support, might have serious consequences for academic freedom. It will explore the kinds of records that are subject to those laws, including those that originate outside the state university, such as those from other academics, government agencies, or private individuals.

Second, it will explore solutions that both protect academic freedom and recognize the right of the public to know how state funds are used. The latter discussion also will consider where the line might be drawn between a faculty member’s publicly disclosable work and private work that should be exempt from disclosure under state FOIA laws.

“Because so much public policy stands on the shoulders of academic research,” Dr. Schnare explained, “academics at state universities must fall under the same scrutiny as all other government employees who have the power to formulate policies. Unless they are, the public is not only hostage to the biases from which academics may suffer, the public is closed out of the most important stage of policy formation – that point when the assumptions driving the policies are formed.”

The session will be held at the Jack Morton Auditorium of the George Washington University, 805 21st Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. There is no charge for the conference, including the meals. Persons interested in attending are requested to register at: www.law.gwu.edu/gwl/academicfreedom so the organizers can obtain an accurate count of attendees. Further background on the issues, including the briefs in the Virginia case, papers by conference participants, and a more detailed program (with the biographies of panelists) will be available on the conference web site at www.law.gwu.edu/gwl/academicfreedom. For additional information on the seminar, contact Kristen Pallmeyer at 202.994.4692.

See accompanying image for the event flyer.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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