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The Conflicted University: Special Issue of Academe

November 8, 2010

Cat Warren, Editor, Academe 
Sheldon Krimsky, Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning, Tufts University.

This special issue of the AAUP magazine, Academe, examines the endangered future of independent, transparent research at universities across the country.

Washington, DC─Guest editor Sheldon Krimsky, a professor at Tufts University and one of the nation’s experts in scientific conflicts of interest, teamed up with Academe editor Cat Warren to create this expanded special issue. In the issue, a group of internationally respected academics, policy makers, and science journalists tackle what have become some of the thorniest issues facing higher education: corporate conflicts of interest, the chilling of scientific speech and academic freedom, and the urgent need to protect the integrity of scientific research.

One cluster of articles in the issue examines how powerful economic and political interests influence and chill scientific research and legal efforts to understand and protect our vulnerable environment.  In “Kneecapping’ Academic Freedom,” Washington University law professors Robert R. Kuehn and Peter A. Joy describe how this year, across the nation, state legislators and powerful corporate interests have launched an unprecedented number of attacks on law school clinics. In “The Costs of a Climate of Suppression,” Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists describes the personal and professional harassment of scientists and explains how such ideological attacks undermine sound public policy. In “BP, Corporate R&D, and the University,” Russ Lea, vice president for research at the University of South Alabama, examines the behavior of BP following the Gulf oil spill, and concludes that public universities should not agree to restrictive contracts that limit research, publication, or transparency.

And a group of eminent historians examine how industry seeks to influence academic expertise, inside both the lab and the courtroom. “A Not So Slippery Slope,” by Allan M. Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, argues that rejecting tobacco funding isn’t rocket science; it’s basic ethics. And in “The Historians of Industry,” Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner recount their experiences serving as expert witnesses—and the lengths that industry goes to to suppress and discount testimony.

“With over $30 billion in federal funds invested in science, the public must be assured that the production of knowledge is free from political or financial influences that corrupt objectivity and scientific autonomy,” says Sheldon Krimsky.

Below is the table of contents and author contact information for the November-December 2010 issue of Academe.

“Kneecapping” Academic Freedom
Corporate attacks on law school clinics are escalating.
Washington University School of Law professors Robert R. Kuehn  and Peter A. Joy.

The Costs of a Climate of Fear
Ideological attacks on scientists undermine sound public policy.
Michael Halpern, Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.

BP, Corporate R&D, and the University
New lessons for research universities, thanks to a catastrophe.
Russ Lea, Vice President for Research, University of South Alabama.

When Research Turns to Sludge
Tying strings to sludge is not as hard as it sounds.
Steve Wing, epidemiologist at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

A Not-So-Slippery Slope
Rejecting tobacco funding isn’t rocket science. It’s basic ethics.
Allan M. Brandt, historian and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

The Historians of Industry
What happens when historians enter the courtroom? Mostly, industry rules.
Gerald Markowitz, historian at CUNY and David Rosner, historian at Columbia University.

Hubris in Grantland
Languor and laissez-faire greet conflict of interest at the NIH.
Daniel S. Greenberg, science journalist.

The Moral Education of Journal Editors
Disclosure is a necessary first step toward scientific integrity.
Sheldon Krimsky, urban and environmental policy and planning professor, Tufts University.

Diagnosing Conflict-of-Interest Disorder
How Big Pharma helps write the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Lisa Cosgrove, clinical psychologist at University of Massachusetts, Boston, and residential research fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center at Harvard University.

Big Food, Big Agra, and the Research University
A Q&A with Marion Nestle, New York University food scientist.

The Canadian Corporate-Academic Complex
The unhealthy collaboration of corporate funders and university administrators.
James Turk, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Professors.
The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has about 48,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Media Contact: 
Cat Warren
Publication Date: 
Monday, November 8, 2010