Friday, January 23, 2015

Academic freedom watch: academically disguised lobbying at the University of Kansas

I noted before the news about hiring practices at Florida State being influenced by the Koch's brothers ideological agenda. Now the news suggest that the Koch have been funding an ideologically biased center at the University of Kansas (KU). Art Hall, who worked for the the Koch's, and now runs KU's Center for Applied Economics, has been at the center of the controversy.

There is a new and troubling development in the story. Professor Hall has filed to block a group of students that wanted more information about the relation between him and the Koch brothers. Schuyler Kraus the president of Students for a Sustainable Future, the group behind the information request, suggested that: “It just seems more obvious that there’s something going on that they want to hide.” Indeed.

The connections of wealthy individuals, with strong views on the economy, funding research on economics is always problematic. Not surprisingly, this is happening at a Business School, which are often heavily dependent on corporate donors, who might have a political agenda that conflicts with the research values that most universities profess to follow.

PS: You may want to check the UnKoch My Campus website here. This quote from Charles Koch in their site is telling: "We should cease financing our own destruction and…[support] only those programs, departments or schools that 'contribute in some way to our individual companies or to the general welfare of our free enterprise system.'"

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