Date of Award

Spring 1-27-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Joseph Stetar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amaney Jamal, Ph.D.


Academic Freedom, Freedom in Teaching, Freedom in Research, Middle East Studies, Israel-Palestine Conflict


In this study, academic freedom was defined by 17 foreign-born professors:12 Arab-born and five non-Arab professors from nine different higher education institutions, as the ability to express different ideas, research any topic, and publish the results without fear of intimidation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to examine how foreign-born professors experienced academic freedom when teaching and writing about Middle East issues and how their views about the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East influenced their experiences on the grounds of their foreignness (place of origin, race/ethnicity, and religion). Overall, participants reported positive experiences with academic freedom when teaching and writing about Middle East issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also reported that expressing views from a Middle Eastern point of views added new values and brought different perspectives into the classroom, for the most part. However, they acknowledged that expressing an opinion about Israel and U.S. policies in the Middle East inside the classroom was risky, but what even riskier was discussing these topics outside the classroom. Some were blacklisted by private organizations as anti-American or anti-Semitic for expressing their political views on different social platforms. Whether Arab-born or non-Arab, discussing the Israel policy in the Middle East was seen as a red line, the crossing of which could threaten the academic freedom of professors.