(Slaughter 1988) Academic freedom and the state

Slaughter, Sheila. Academic freedom and the state: reflections on the uses of knowledge. Journal of Higher Education. 1988 May–Jun; 59(3):241–262.

Slaughter represents the status of academic freedom in the USA as the continually changing outcome of an ongoing process of negotiation among societal powers. The effects of this negotiation on academic freedom are often mediated through the state. In the 1960s and early 1970s, liberal reformers from within academia succeeded in expanding the role of the state (both in academia and elsewhere) and in using its power to enforce cross-industry regulation shifting the cost of economic externalities, such as environmental pollution, back onto business. The corporate world responded by influencing the political process to cut overall state funding, and to direct funding (especially for education) selectively into areas more useful to business interests, such as science and engineering, particularly military applications. Business also began investing in social-science foundations with a right-wing corporate ideological orientation. With the aid of complaisant university administrators, jointly funded university-industry ventures proliferated. Slaughter argues that such ventures typically involve pledges of secrecy and control over information that contravene classical doctrines of academic freedom, and that heavy commitments of research resources to business and military projects can have ideological implications even when the process and results of research are stated in purely technical terms. In all, Slaughter makes a case that the pervasive influence of business over academia, especially via the state, seriously compromises academic freedom.



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