Thesis: Relationship Between Brief Media Exposure and Prejudice

Posted: February 26, 2011 in Israel Apartheid Week

Since September 2010, Josee has been researching media exposure and its connection to anti-Semitic attitudes for her thesis, but was recently informed by the York Ethics Committee that her research on this topic would not be allowed for her undergrad thesis.  The issue at hand was that the a shortened version of ‘A Scale of Measurement for Anti-Semitism’ by Levinson and Sandford (1944) that was adapted by Cohen 2009, was deemed ‘offensive’.  The scale includes stereotypes about Jews and asks participants in the experiment to rate whether they agree or disagree with the statement.  Instead of asking Josee to change her dependent measure, the ethics committee’s original request was that she change her topic all together.   In response, she did some research about her academic freedoms and found a document published by the President of York University, Mamdouh Shoukri which states that

“Freedom of inquiry by faculty and students is central to the mission of the academy. Academic freedom implies the freedom to teach, conduct research, disseminate knowledge and help shape public opinion and policy.  However, with academic freedom come certain obligations. Scholars’  academic activities must be based on evidence, rigorous thought and extensive research and universities must be dedicated to rigor, reasoned discourse and a willingness to accept dissent and deal with complex issues.  As such, academic freedom cannot be a shield for racism or bigotry.”

With this document Josee was able to enforce her academic freedoms.   The Ethics committee has changed it’s decision and is reluctantly allowing Josee to go forth with her research but have requested that she change her dependent measure.

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