Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Wheeler Declaration for an open university

Participants in the Students for Free Culture conference (Berkeley, October 10-13, 2008) have drafted the Wheeler Declaration, named after the building on the Berkeley campus where they met:

An open university is one in which

  1. The research the university produces is open access.
  2. The course materials are open educational resources.
  3. The university embraces free software and open standards.
  4. If the university holds patents, it readily licenses them for free software, essential medicines, and the public good.
  5. The university network reflects the open nature of the internet.

where "university" includes all parts of the community: students, faculty, administration.

Here's some background from Karen Rustad at Little Green River:

...The second day, the spontaneous participant-organized “unconference”, provoked a lot of good conversations and was surprisingly productive --by the end of it, everyone agreed to what people are calling the Wheeler Declaration (after the building we were in): an agenda for Students for Free Culture to focus on for next year. We’re still arguing about what to call it (since Open University is trademarked, apparently), but the idea is to pressure and grade our campuses based on five criteria: opening access to research, creating/using open courseware, embracing free/open-source software and open document formats, using university-held patents for the public good (think cheap drugs for the developing world), and keeping the university network unfiltered and uncensored. We’ll see how SFC executes this plan, but I think it’s an excellent target for the org to have.

Comment.  It appears that this version is just a draft and that SFC is still working on the final form and the plan for implementation.  If anyone has more information on it, please drop me a line or post it to the SPARC Open Access Forum.

Update (10/23/08).  The draft now includes this addendum:

Steps in an Open University Campaign

  1. Define best practices for each criteria
  2. Research universities' statuses
  3. Educate and help universities to move towards openness
  4. Grade universities