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Photo of James Turk.

James Turk

Director, Centre for Free Expression
OfficeRCC 155
Phone416-979-5000 ext 6396

James L. Turk is a distinguished visiting scholar in the Faculty of Communication & Design and director of the Centre for Free Expression.

The Centre is a hub for public education, research and advocacy on free expression and the public’s right to seek, receive and share information. It works collaboratively with other academic and community organizations in Canada and internationally. Information on all its activities is available on the Centre’s website --

Previously, Turk spent 16 years as executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, where he was recognized for building a strong and effective association representing over 70,000 academic and general staff from universities and colleges across the country, for defending academic freedom and for his contributions to post-secondary education in Canada. Prior to his work at CAUT, he was the executive assistant to the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and director of education for the Ontario Federation of Labour. Before that, Turk was an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, specializing in Canadian studies and labour studies.

Turk is an accomplished writer and presenter and his most recent book, Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Free Speech Rights in the University, was published in 2014. He has received the Distinguished Member Award from the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, the Jay Newman Award for Academic Integrity from the University of Guelph Faculty Association, the Peter C. Dooley Legacy Award from the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association, the Milner Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Cause of Academic Freedom from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and the Les Fowlie Intellectual Freedom Award from the Ontario Library Association.

Turk received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Toronto, his MA from the University of California at Berkeley and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, social psychology and anthropology. He was a Knox Fellow in political science and philosophy at Cambridge University.


PhD — University of Toronto

MA — University of California, Berkeley

A.B. (magna cum laude) — Harvard University

Knox Fellow — Cambridge University

Freedom of expression

Academic freedom

Whistleblower protection

Public's right to know


Speech restrictive laws

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Board Member

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, Steering Committee Member


Turk, James L., ed., Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Free Speech Rights in the University. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2014.

Turk, James L., and Charis Wahl, eds., Love, Hope, Optimism: An informal portrait of Jack Layton by those who knew him. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2012.

Turk, James L., ed, Universities at Risk: How Politics, Special Interests and Corporatization Threaten the Integrity of the University. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co, 2008.

Turk, James L. and Manson, Allan. (eds). Free Speech in Fearful Times: After 9/11 in Canada, the U.S., Australia and Europe. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co, 2007.

Bruneau, William and Turk, James L. (eds). Disciplining Dissent: The Curbing of Free Expression in Academia and the Media. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2005.

Turk, James L. (ed). The Corporate Campus: Commercialization and the Dangers to Canada’s Universities and Colleges. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2000.



Turk, James L., “Universities, the Charter, Doug Ford and Campus Free Speech.” Constitutional Forum 29, no. 2 (2020): 31-44., external link

Palys, Ted, James L. Turk and John Lowman, “Statute-based Protections for Research Confidentiality: Implications of the U.S. Experience for Canada” Canadian Journal of Law and Society/ Revue Canadienne Droit et Société 33, no.3 (2018): 381-400., external link

Turk, James L., “A manufactured crisis: the Ford government’s troubling free speech mandate” Academic Matters (Fall 2018)., external link

Turk, James L., “Suppressing Speech Does Not Lead to Social Justice.” Canadian Diversity 14(4): 47-51, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Stripping Academic Freedom from Administrators.” Academe, September-October 2017., external link

Turk, James L. and Stewart, Penni, “Safe for What: Universities and the Controversy over Safe Spaces.” Centre for Free Expression, Occasional Papers Series, July 7, 2017.  PDF file

Turk, James L., “The Landscape of the Contemporary University” Canadian Journal of Communication 42(2017): 3-12,, external link

Turk, James L., “University Debased” Alberta Views, September 1, 2016,, external link

Turk, James L., “Canadian Research -A Fresh Start?” International Innovation, January 2016.

Turk, James L., “A Chance to Get Science Right” Science 9, October 2015: 139.

Turk, James L., “Science Under Siege.” In Canada After Harper, edited by Ed Finn, 322-346. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2015.

Guyatt, Gordon H., Cass, Carol E., Jackson, Alan C., Smith, Derryck H., Welch, J. Philip and Turk, James L. Protecting Academic Freedom. Open Medicine, 2: (2008)., external link

Catano, Victor M.  and Turk, James L. (2007). Fraud and misconduct in scientific research: a definition and procedures for investigation. Med Law, 26:3 (2007): 465-76.



Presentations (Selected 2014-2021)

Turk, James L., “Offence Is Unavoidable, Hate Is Inexcusable: Navigating Intellectual Freedom in Public Libraries.” Ontario Library Association. February 4, 2021.

Turk, James L., “Public Libraries: Challenges of Intellectual Freedom.” Milton Public Library. October 19, 2020.

Turk, James L., “Challenges of Intellectual Freedom for Public Libraries in Democratic Society.” Calgary Public Library. March 13, 2020.

Turk, James L., “Intellectual Freedom: Human Rights, Social Justice & Public Libraries.” Ontario Library Association Super Conference. January 30, 2020.

Turk, James L., “Democracy, Public Libraries, and Intellectual Freedom.” Edmonton Public Library. January 15, 2020.

Turk, James L., “What's All the Fuss about Campus Free Speech? Politics, Academic Freedom & the Mission of the University.” University of Alberta. November 6, 2019.

Turk, James L., “Academic Freedom in Canada.” International Dialogue on Education. Berlin, Germany. October 28, 2019.

Turk, James L., “Intellectual Freedom 101.” Vancouver Public Library. September 25, 2019.

Turk, James L., “Social Responsibility and Neutrality in Libraries.” Alberta Library Conference. Jasper. April 27, 2019.

Turk, James L., “Freedom of Expression on Campus: Some Thoughts.” Harry Crowe Foundation Conference. Toronto, February 22, 2019.

Turk, James L., "Challenges to Intellectual Freedom: What to do.” Ontario Library Association SuperConference. Toronto. January 31, 2019.

Turk, James L, “Freedom of Expression: Its Importance & Its Limits.” Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, N.S. January 22, 2019.

Turk, James L., “University Statements on Free Expression: What is essential.” Ryerson Faculty Association, Ryerson University, Toronto. November 28, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Academic Freedom, Campus Freedom of Expression, Privacy and Other Related Adventures in Academic Collective Bargaining.” Canadian Association of University Business Officers – Faculty Bargaining Services. Montreal, October 31, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Countering SLAPPs.” Parkland Institute. Edmonton, September 28, 2018

Turk, James L. “Exploring the Tensions between Academic Freedom and Anti-Oppression.” Carleton University, September 24, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Taking Intellectual Freedom Seriously.” Edmonton Public Library, September 11, 2018.

Turk, James L., "Campus Free Speech." Council of Ontario Universities Academic Associates. Toronto, August 22, 2018

Turk, James L., “Protecting Intellectual Freedom.” Canadian Federation of Library Associations National Forum. Regina, May 2, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Censorship Undermines Social Justice.” Mount Royal University, Calgary. February 9, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Is There Room for Academic Freedom in Today’s University?” Mount Royal University, Calgary. February 8, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Is There a Place for Censorship in Libraries and Universities?” Ontario Library Association SuperConference, Toronto. February 1, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Who Can I Say What? Censorship and Free Speech in the University.” Centre for Constitutional Studies, University of Alberta Law School, Edmonton. January 23, 2018.

Turk, James L., “The Controversy Over Campus Free Expression.” OISE/UT, Toronto. November 23, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Words Matter: Freedom of Expression, Hate Speech, and Academic Freedom in the University” Social Justice Week Forum, Ryerson University, Toronto.  October 25, 2017

Turk, James L., “Suppressing Speech Is Not the Route to Social Justice.” Ryerson University Conference: The Many Gods of Canada: Religion, Secularism and Public Policy. Toronto. October 19, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Academic Freedom Worldwide: The Importance of the UNESCO Recommendation on he Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel.” UNESCO Forum – World Teachers Day, Paris. October 5, 2017.

Turk, James L., "Campus Free Speech." Council of Ontario Universities Academic Associates. Toronto, August 22, 2018

Turk, James L., “Protecting Intellectual Freedom.” Canadian Federation of Library Associations National Forum. Regina, May 2, 2018.

Turk, James L., “Researcher-Participant Privilege: Hanging by a Thread.” Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards National Conference, Halifax. April 28, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Civility and Incivility in Academia: Academic Freedom, Expressive Speech & Misconduct.”  Jointly sponsored by University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and Brandon University. April 13, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Under Attack from All Sides: Freedom of Expression, Academic Freedom and the Future of the
University.” University of Wisconsin – Stout, March 27, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Rescuing Collegial Governance.” Laurentian University, March 16, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Seizing the Opportunity: Getting Better Rights and Protections.” University of Alberta, February 8, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Universities Must Be Safe Spaces for Free Expression.” Chang School, Ryerson University, January 18, 2017.

Turk, James L., “Requisites for Good Post-Secondary Labour Relations Law.” University of Alberta, November 2, 2016.

Turk, James L., “Academic Freedom and University Boards of Governors.” Ryerson University Board of Governors, November 1, 2016.

Turk, James L., “Unsafe and Unsound: Codes of Conduct Threaten Academic Freedom, Free Expression & the Academic Mission.” Northern Ontario School of Medicine. April 18, 2016.

Turk, James L., “Academic Freedom.” Annual Meeting of Chairs, Deans and Directors, Ryerson University. April 14, 2016.

Turk, James L., “Undermining Academic Freedom: Precarity, Duty, Surveillance & Civility.” University of Alberta, November 5, 2015.

Turk, James L., “Whither University Governance.” Kwantlen Polytechnic University, August 27, 2015.

Turk, James L., “Silencing the Academy: Academic freedom and the future of university governance.” Dalhousie University. Halifax, Nova Scotia. March 24, 2015.

Turk, James L., “What Is an Art College without Academic Freedom?” Alberta College of Art and Design. Calgary, Alberta. March 12, 2015.

Turk, James L. “Research and Science in Canada Are in Danger.” SRC Seminar, Department of Politics and Public Administration. Ryerson University. Toronto. March 5, 2015.

Turk, James L., “What’s All the Fuss about Program Prioritization?” Wilfrid Laurier University. November 27, 2014.

Turk, James L., “’You can’t say that’: Enforced civility as a threat to academic freedom and freedom of expression.” Ryerson University. Toronto, Ontario. November 13, 2014

Turk, James L., “Public Science under Siege: Past, present and a vision for the future.” Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. National Research Council. Ottawa, Ontario. November 6, 2014.

Turk, James L., “Civility, Precarity and the Demise of Academic Freedom.” Brock University. St. Catharine’s Ontario. October 30, 2014.

Turk, James L. “Should universities and colleges be run like Walmart?” Ryerson University Social Justice Week Talks. Toronto, October 7, 2014.

Turk, James L., “An Inconvenient Symbol: Academic freedom in the 21st century university.” Keynote address. Academic Freedom Conference. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. October 1, 2014.

Turk, James L., “Limiting Academic Research.” Graduate Student Association Colloquium. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. September 30, 2014.

Turk, James L. “Science Under Siege.” Joint session of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians, Canadian Population Society, Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, Canadian Society for the Study of Education, and Canadian Sociological Association at the Congress for the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. St. Catharines, Ontario May 27, 2014.

Turk, James L., “The Future of the University and How We Can Shape It.” Mount Royal University, May 12, 2014

Turk, James L. “The Remaking of the University” Ryerson University, Toronto. April 4, 2014

Turk, James L. “Academic Freedom.” University of Regina Academic Freedom Forum, March 27, 2014

Turk, James L. “Community-University Research.” Faculty of Public Affairs, Carleton University. March 17, 2014

Turk, James L. “More of the Story: Silence of the Labs and the undermining of science in Canada.” Science for Peace. University of Toronto, March 3, 2014

Turk, James L. “Protecting Academic Integrity When Universities Collaborate with Industry.” Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education and Training, University of British Columbia, February 25, 2014.

Featured Work

Academic Freedom in conflict
James L. Turk, ed., Academic Freedom in Conflict: The Struggle over Free Speech Rights in the University. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 2014.