But there's a big catch: It's illegal to read classified documents, leaked or not.
That's according to Stephen I. Vladeck, who teaches national-security law at American University's law school in Washington. He cites the Espionage Act of 1917. "The current law," he says, "is that a document remains classified even after it has wrongfully been disclosed."
In December, Vladeck testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the legal and constitutional issues raised by WikiLeaks.
"Strictly speaking, even the most innocent, well-intentioned educators" may be prosecuted for "disseminating classified materials," he says. "But it's a long shot whether the government would decide to prosecute."
Does this mean educators should protect their students by banning the papers?
No, say administrators.
Christina Paxson, dean of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, says universities should foster the free exchange of ideas.
"We feel strongly that faculty should have a lot of discretion for what is appropriate for their classes," she says.
"On the other hand, we don't want students to . . . do anything they would find uncomfortable" - especially would-be diplomats.
Barbara K. Bodine, diplomat in residence at the Woodrow Wilson School, sees the dilemma.
The former diplomat - she was the U.S. ambassador to Yemen from 1997 to 2001 - says reading the papers might endanger career chances for students who intend to go into foreign service.
"It has been made clear by the government," she says by e-mail, "that it would be unwise for those who will need security clearances to avail themselves of the cables."
Vladeck lays it out: "The government routinely asks potential employees whether they have had access to classified information in the past."
If you've read the WikiLeaks material, he says, "you'd either have to say yes, and admit you've broken the law, or you'd have to lie." Not advisable, given the screening process, which often includes a polygraph test.
Bodine's Princeton colleague Sophie Meunier recently led a seminar about how the WikiLeaks affair has affected America's image abroad. She did not require students to read the papers themselves, which turned out to be a wise decision.
"A few weeks later," says Meunier, "one student in the [college military program] ROTC found out from his chain of command that reading the actual cables could prevent one from getting a security clearance."
Anne Louise Antonoff, who teaches international relations at Penn, says she fears that exposing foreign-service students to the documents "desensitizes them to security concerns" and the importance of the espionage law.
For students preparing to become scholars of history or political science, she says, it might be different. But they should be careful to read the papers in full context and follow with independent research.
Princeton international-affairs expert Wolfgang Danspeckgruber is uneasy about anyone, scholar or would-be diplomat, using the papers.
"There is an ethical and moral dimension here that cannot be ignored," he says. "Some people have suffered because of this [leak]; they may even be dead." Danspeckgruber says there is evidence that a number of foreign sources cited in the cables have been punished, perhaps even executed, for passing on information to U.S. diplomats.
"In principle, this stigma hangs over [the documents]," Danspeckgruber says, "whatever you do with them."
Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736