I very much enjoyed the speech of Minister A.-C. Lyon (“Conseillère d’Etat, Cheffe du Département de la formation, de la jeunesse et de la culture du Canton de Vaud”) today at the University’s Dies Academicus (see link below). She talked about the special role of universities in our mutating world and in particular of the two special institutional properties of the University of Lausanne (UNIL): academic freedom as the generic and defining property of all universities and the autonomy from the State of Vaud that UNIL enjoys since some years ago. She also said that these special properties are granted to the university because of its contract with society to speak true or utter the truth (“dire vrai”).
Indeed, as professors, we have the responsibility to tell the truth in both our classes and academic writings. But what does it mean? I think it means that when we exert our academic profession our statements need to be based as much as possible on solid, sound research, that is, verified evidence obtained through scientific research, and (even or particularly when such evidence is missing) on scientific reasoning.