Campus sex and the anti-sexiness of the new authoritarians [The Good Life series]

[Originally published at EveryJoe.com.]

Rape is among the most horrific of crimes. Sex should be a fun and beautiful thing — but rape takes that most personal of experiences and turns it into a degradation.

There is moderately good news about the number of rapes in the USA. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rape rate has declined by over 60% in the last two decades.

That’s welcome news, of course. But no matter what the rate is, it is too high. The vast majority of human beings are already perfectly capable of living their lives without ever raping anyone, so eliminating rape entirely should be the standard we aspire to.

Country comparisons are useful in setting expectations. Sweden, for example, has a shockingly high rape rate of 53.2 per 100,000 people. In comparison, the United States has a low rate at 28.6. But before we issue congratulations, let’s also consider Canada, the USA’s near neighbor both geographically and culturally, where the rate is 1.5. Significant progress is still possible.

Controversy has been running high recently over how best to lower the rape rate on campuses. Progress should especially be possible in colleges and universities, which are populated by young people with higher-education aspirations, and statistics do show that fewer rapes and other violent crimes are committed on campuses.

But in California, recent legislation attempts to lessen the problem by mandating explicit verbal communication prior to sexual activity. The initiative’s slogan is “Yes means Yes.” The idea is that the absence of resistance is not enough to make initiating sex acceptable. “No” does mean “No”, but the lack of a “No” does not mean “Yes.” So an explicit positive acceptance of sexual initiative will henceforth be necessary before any student can make a sexual move. Those who fail to demonstrate that explicit positive consent was given will accordingly be more easily found guilty of rape.

The initiative has generated a firestorm of debate — with two fascinating features.

One feature is that the debate shows our shifting political fault lines, which increasingly are not conservatives versus liberals, but rather both conservatives and liberals against the new authoritarians. Here for example is liberal columnist Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine, on how the initiative undermines one foundation of liberalism — the presumption of innocence. He is joined by conservative columnist Charles Cooke, writing in National Review, who similarly lambasts the initiative’s willingness to jettison due process of law. And both are opposed to new authoritarian Ezra Klein, who wrote in Vox defending the new law despite its “overreach” and the fact that it will be cause “a haze of fear and confusion” on campuses and “create a world where men are afraid.”

The second fascinating feature is the largely-positive response to the initiative within higher education circles. The authoritarian impulse is always a natural response to a problem, and very often professors and administrators find it easier to use their power to impose their wills and micromanage their students’ thoughts, feelings, and activities. That impulse is the opposite of the ideal of liberal education.

So in the spirit of that ideal, let me suggest that a better solution to the problem of rape lies in the opposite direction: What students need is to be treated less like semi-responsible, semi-competent children who need oversight, direction, and control; and what they need is more self-responsibility and power. Especially in institutions of higher education, where every moment is a teaching moment, the lesson we should be teaching about sex is that free and responsible men and women can take charge of their sex lives and make them meaningful — and prevent most problems from arising in the first place.

So some advice about how to solve the rape problem to everyone involved — young women and men, professors and administrators, and intellectuals and policy-makers.

To young women: When choosing a college, do research on universities’ rates of sexual violence. Don’t apply to those that have unacceptably high rates. Also do your homework about fraternities’ reputations, so you can choose carefully which parties you go to. Go to parties with a friend or three and keep an eye out for each other. If there drunk guys are around, leave.

All of that is common sense — though we know that common sense and the sex drive are often not on speaking terms. But that is part of education: developing those habits of ahead-of-time thinking and action that will serve us well. The same principles apply whether you’re in college or going hiking in the woods or driving through a big city at night — there are wild animals there, so beware.

To young men: We do have in our midst, even in higher education, a surprising number of sub-human males. But every young man who arrives in college or university knows that rape is wrong. And the vast majority will never rape. So the problem is the minority of males who have not yet decided to become real men. What kind of man can only get a woman into bed if she’s drunk? What sort of loser can only get sex by brute force? The message that should be inspired in all young men is the opposite: You want to become a real man, a manly man in the serious sense — one whom women genuinely find attractive and respond to romantically.

To campus administrators and policy-makers: Campus life is a microcosm of life in general — but with a specialized focus: helping young men and women further develop the knowledge, skills, and character they need to pursue their life goals. Every policy we adopt should foster that mission, and none should undercut it. Becoming authoritarian ourselves is always a mistake, however tempting.

That doesn’t mean there is nothing administrators can do to help solve the problem of rape. One standout aspect is the influence of alcohol: In 71% of all American cases of rape, either the perpetrator or the victim or both had been drinking. Yes, 71 percent.

So why not work to change our alcohol policies? The current legal drinking age in the USA is 21, while it is 18 in most other countries in the world. Some of those countries have lower rape rates and some have higher.

But consider what the drinking age means to the average American college student, most of whom are under 21. Drinking becomes a symbol of independence and getting drunk a rite of passage. Alcohol becomes a deliciously forbidden fruit, since administrators frown upon it and try to police it, which drives student drinking into semi-secret parties in frat houses and dorms. So the effect of our current policy is to couple drinking with rebelliousness and independence — and the sex drive — and drive it underground.

I contrast this, anecdotally, to my experience as an undergraduate student in Canada, where we could drink legally and pubs on campus were among the most popular social spots. The drinking was mostly social, in public, and not demonized. Social scientists will tell a more detailed causal story, but it’s worth noting that alcohol consumption in Canada is moderately lower than in the USA and the campus rape rate is much lower.

So if we really want less sexual violence on campus, why don’t we try more self-responsibility and freedom? We currently have one authoritarian rule (We need to control your drinking) contributing to another authoritarian policy (We need to control your sex life).

Instead of a vicious cycle of imposing more controls on students and demanding their compliance, let’s create a virtuous cycle based on encouraging student self-control and personal responsibility.

* * *

Stephen Hicks is the author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault and of Nietzsche and the Nazis. He blogs at www.StephenHicks.org.

Edukacja dla przedsiębiorczości — Polish translation

My essay “Educating for Entrepreneurship” has been translated into Polish as “Edukacja dla przedsiębiorczości” and published in the journal Przeglad Pedagogiczny 2015, Numer 1.repozytorium.ukw

Abstract:
Jak najlepiej możemy pomóc młodym ludziom w nabraniu postawy przedsiębiorczości -– przygotować ich czy to do zainicjowania własnego biznesu, czy to do bycia przedsiębiorczymi w ramach istniejących firm, czy też do przeżywania własnego życia w sposób twórczy? Jeżeli tradycyjny model edukacji -– w którym uczniowie siedzą w równych rzędach ławek, wykonując w tym samym czasie tę samą pracę i podążając w kierunku wskazanym przez jakąś autorytatywną postać -– nie przygotowuje uczniów do bycia przedsiębiorczymi, to czym powinniśmy zastąpić ten model? W niniejszym eseju analizuję, w jaki sposób nauczyciele mogą rozwijać w swojej pracy cechy wzmacniające skuteczną przedsiębiorczość i wykorzystywać je przy tworzeniu formalnych programów nauczania, wspomagając tym samym uczniów w rozwijaniu tychże cech.

Description:
How can we best help younger people become entrepreneurial — either to prepare them for creating their own businesses, or for being entrepreneurial within existing firms, or for living their lives entrepreneurially? If the traditional model of education –- students sitting in straight rows of desks, all doing the same work at the same time, and all following the directions of an authority figure -– does not prepare students for entrepreneurism, then what should we replace it with? In this essay I explore how educators can take the traits of successful entrepreneurship and use them to develop formal curricular activities that help students develop those traits.

Vorzüglichkeit, Freiheit und Leidenschaft in der Bildung

[A translation into German of my “Excellence in Education,” first published in Decus in 2004.]

Vorzüglichkeit, Freiheit und Leidenschaft in der Bildung

Stephen R.C. Hicks

Übersetzung von Anja Hartleb-Parson

pencilsWenn man über Ausbildung schreiben soll, kann es schwer sein den Klischees zu entkommen: Vorzüglichkeit, Wahrheit, Ehre, Tradition, Zukunft.

Trotzdem erfassen diese Wörter wesentliche Ziele der Bildung, besonders für jene von uns an der Art von College, wie es das Rockford College ist und sein kann. Ich will mich hier auf die Vorzüglichkeit konzentrieren.

Meine gesamte Ausbildung fand in Kanada und den Vereinigten Staaten an großen Staatsschulen statt. Mein Psychologiekurs im ersten Semester hatte ungefähr 600 Studenten. Ich saß im hinteren Bereich eines riesigen Hörsaals, und bekam nie ein klares Bild von meinem Professor. Andere Kurse waren ähnlich. Die meisten meiner Prüfungen wurden maschinell oder von Jungakademikern zensiert. Ich hatte keine Klagen und erhielt eine gute Ausbildung an einer geachteten Universität in Kanada.

Als ich zum Rockford College kam, war es eine Offenbarung für mich, was an einem kleinen, frei-wissenschaftlichen College möglich ist. Kleine Kurse und persönliche Konversationen mit Professoren, Professoren, die unterrichten lieben, die sich die Zeit nehmen, Kommentare für Semesterarbeiten zu schreiben und Aufsätze zu zensieren, die mit Studenten in Labors zusammen arbeiten, und die persönliches Feedback für kreative Kunst und Projektarbeiten anbieten.

Nachdem ich mich an das Rockford College angepasst hatte, begann ich wie folgt darüber zu denken: Rockford College nimmt den freien Teil einer frei-wissenschaftlichen Bildung ernst. Es nimmt die Art von Bildung ernst, die freie Männer und Frauen verlangen. Dies wirft eine sehr philosophische Frage auf: Wie bildet man freie Menschen aus?

Ein Bestandteil der Freiheit ist gesellschaftlich: sich nicht autoritären Geboten unterwerfen zu müssen. Wir leben in einer demokratischen Republik, und nehmen unsere Freiheiten ernst. Ein Teil der Bildung ist es also, Menschen beizubringen, selbstverwaltende Bürger zu sein, Individuen, die sich gesunde Meinungen über komplizierte Sachen bilden können, die Vertrauen in ihre Entscheidungen und die Initiative haben, sie umzusetzen, und die die Geistesunabhängigkeit besitzen, sich von anderen nicht herumstoßen zu lassen.
Ein anderer Bestandteil der Freiheit ist kognitiv. Ignorante Individuen können kein völlig freies Leben führen. Wissen ist eine Form der Macht, und Macht dehnt den Bereich der Freiheit aus. Eine gut ausgebildete Person hat das Wissen und die Fähigkeiten, die aufregenden Dinge, die in den Künsten, den Geistes-, Natur- und Gesellschaftswissenschaften erreicht werden, frei zu erforschen.

Ein ausgezeichnetes College integriert diese zwei Bestandteile. Es maximiert Studentenkontakt mit sachkundigen Professoren und schafft eine liberale Umgebung von energischer Untersuchung und Erforschung.
Das ist aber die einfachere Aufgabe der Bildung. Was ein College für seine Studenten tut, ist wichtig, aber die harte Aufgabe besteht darin, was Studenten für sich selbst tun. Vorzüglichkeit in Bildung resultiert nur, wenn sich Studenten entscheiden, diese zu erreichen. Gute Lehrer und Ermutigung bedeuten nichts für einen Studenten, der keinen aktiven und leidenschaftlichen Verstand hat.

Ein aktiver Verstand ist Resultat des freien Willens. Er besteht in der Wahl, den Verstand zu dem zu öffnen, was die Welt zu bieten hat und diese Einstellung des aufgeschlossenen Strebens beizubehalten. Es kann schwer sein, natürliche Neugier so zu kultivieren, dass sie zur Gewohnheit wird, und Faulheit, Angst vor dem Fehlermachen, Angst Meinungen ändern zu müssen, und all die anderen selbstzerstörerischen Gewohnheiten, die einige Leute dazu führen, ihren Verstand zu verschließen, zu bewältigen. Die Gewohnheit des freien und aktiven Denkens zu entwickeln, ist der härteste Teil der Bildung, aber es ist die einzige Gewohnheit, die Vorzüglichkeit möglich macht.

Leidenschaft ist der andere Schlüssel. Vorzüglichkeit geschieht nicht ohne Leidenschaft.
Studenten sehen Ausbildung manchmal als eine Pflicht an. Sie sehen zum Unterricht gehen und Arbeiten schreiben als lästige Aufgaben an, die sie nur tun müssen, weil der Professor es verlangt. Natürlich laugt diese Denkweise jedwede Leidenschaft für Bildung, die der Student hat, aus.

Oder manchmal sehen Studenten Bildung als instrumental an, als eine Folge von Hürden, die übersprungen werden müssen, um Arbeit zu bekommen mit der die Rechnungen bezahlt werden können. Das laugt auch jede Leidenschaft aus.

Die beste Antwort zu jedem dieser Probleme ist eine, die man leicht vergisst: Niemand muss aufs College gehen, Unterricht besuchen, Aufsätze und Prüfungen schreiben. Am College geht es darum, zu erforschen und zu wachsen – und durch Vorträge und Laborarbeiten, Aufsätze und Prüfungen erforschen und wachsen Sie.

So finden Sie auch Ihre Leidenschaft. Ein Jahr hat zweiundfünfzig Wochen. Es macht einen großen Unterschied, für fünfzig Wochen zu arbeiten und etwas zu machen, was Sie nicht lieben, und dann zwei Wochen Urlaub zu haben — oder das zu machen, was Sie wirklich wollen: eine Karriere für die Sie Leidenschaft besitzen.

Für mich war es die Philosophie. Ich brauchte einige Zeit, bevor ich sie fand: Philosophie war mein fünftes Hauptfach nach Architektur, Ingenieurwesen, Theater und Politologie. Jeder Student folgt einem anderen Pfad, aber derselbe Punkt trifft auf jeden zu: tauchen Sie ein und erkunden Sie für eine Weile die verschiedenen akademischen Welten, bis Sie die finden, mit der Sie klicken. Aber tauchen Sie auch richtig ein und erforschen Sie.

* * *

Stephen Hicks ist Professor der Philosophie am Rockford College in Illinois und ist Autor von Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy Publishing, 2004) und Nietzsche and the Nazis (Ockham’s Razor Publishing, 2010). Er kann über seine Webseite www.stephenhicks.org kontaktiert werden. Dieser Artikel erschien ursprünglich in der Frühjahrsausgabe des Magazins Decus, eine Publikation von Rockford University.

Anja Hartleb-Parson schreibt derzeit ihre Doktorarbeit in Politischer Theorie an der Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. Sie kann über ihre Webseite www.philosophy-101.com kontaktiert werden.

Decus, Frühjahr 2004

A educação está ficando muito cara?

educação-cara-620x350

Muitas pessoas reclamam sobre como a educação tornou-se tão cara. Na maior parte do tempo elas estão erradas.

A escolarização tornou-se mais cara, mas considere o custo dos seguintes recursos educacionais:

Para quase todos nós, o custo da informação caiu drasticamente. Então, se alguém não sabe muito sobre história, biologia ou língua francesa, essa é uma opção.

É claro, para ter acesso a todo este material gratuito, é indispensável o acesso à internet. Assim, deveríamos indagar qual é o custo do acesso à internet e se vale a pena pagá-lo.

O site PSFK fez a seguinte pergunta: você desistiria do acesso à internet pelo resto de sua vida por US$ 1 milhão de dólares? Nada de e-mails, mídias sociais, vídeos em streaming, online banking, fotos de gatos e assim por diante. A maioria das pessoas diz: É claro que não! No seu caso, talvez, você não esteja certo e tenha que refletir sobre a proposta. Em ambos os casos, a internet é de grande valor para você.

Agora pergunto: quanto você paga pelo acesso à internet? Suponha que você pague US$ 1000 dólares por ano — centenas de dólares diretamente para acesso doméstico, e algumas centenas, indiretamente, para o acesso wi-fi num café ou em qualquer espaço público. Se você viver 80 anos, então o seu custo com internet será US$ 80 mil dólares.

A diferença entre o que você paga por ela e o que ela vale para você é enorme: mais de US$ 900 mil para a maioria de nós.

E isto faz sentido se começarmos a contabilizar os custos da educação sem a internet: qual o valor de uma coleção completa da Encyclopedia Britannica? Qual o valor de uma biblioteca com todas as obras clássicas? Qual o valor de uma viagem ao Louvre? Qual o valor de um tutor de matemática e línguas estrangeiras, e tantas outras coisas?

Todas as reduções de custo baseadas em tecnologia são impressionantes e maravilhosas — e úteis ao direcionar nossa atenção para onde estão os reais custos da educação.

Frequentemente enraizado dentro de nós está uma identificação de educação com escolarização. Embora a educação possa ocorrer em uma escola (escolarização), a educação é sempre algo que obtemos por conta própria, seja na escola ou não. Nada pode entrar em nossa mente como conhecimento, e nada pode tornar-se uma habilidade exceto se quisermos queencyclopediaB.jpg.CROP.original-original assim seja.

Então, o custo real da educação é o esforço que cada indivíduo coloca em sua busca. Este esforço é natural nas crianças, pois já nascem curiosas e exploratórias. E ao se desenvolverem, as crianças são estimuladas pelos novos poderes e habilidades que seus corpos e mentes jovens adquirem, reforçando seu compromisso natural com a educação.

Então, qual é o valor agregado da escolarização?

Na melhor das hipóteses, os aparatos das escolas — professores, administradores e infraestrutura — sãofacilitadores. Como professor, por exemplo, você pode ser uma fonte de conhecimento, uma fonte de motivação, e um guia. Conquanto você possa mostrar coisas maravilhosas a uma criança, você não pode fazê-la pensar. Ela tem de fazê-lo por conta própria. Você pode dar uma aula interativa e dinâmica, mas a criança tem que assimila-la. Você poder comprar milhares de livros, mas ela tem que abri-los. Você pode dar uma guitarra ao seu filho, mas ele tem que pegá-la e tocá-la. Você pode construir uma gaiola gínica ou um gira-gira, mas as crianças têm que escolher usá-los.

Na pior das hipóteses, todavia, as escolas podem ser dificultadoras, e isso pode ser seu maior custo.

Considere como, em grande parte da escolarização, a educação é apresentada aos jovens. Eles são informados que: você deve ir para a escola. Sem escolha. E você deve trabalhar em coisas que outrosdecidiram. O professor é o chefe — faça o que ele disser. Além disso: na aula, todo mundo fará a mesma coisa, ao mesmo tempo, e da mesma forma. As respostas corretas já são conhecidas, e estão nas últimas páginas do livro. Finalmente, todo mundo será examinado ao mesmo tempo e da mesma forma. Não falhe, pois isso é ruim e motivo de vergonha.

É motivo de surpresa que tantas crianças comecem o jardim de infância entusiasmadas, alguns anos depois, odeiem a escola? Existe algo mais desmotivador que seguir e repetir? Existe algo mais desumanizador que receber ordens e fazer coisas de forma conformista?

Então: ao custo financeiro da escolarização devemos adicionar os custos social e psicológico. Talvez os custos mais altos da escolarização sejam todos os obstáculos que colocamos no caminho das crianças.Para aprender, as crianças frequentemente têm que superar o tédio, recuperando-se da experiência de um estado quase zumbi.hole-in-the-wall-1

Contraste um sistema de aprendizado popular, mas frequentemente vilipendiado — o videogame. Por que a maioria dos jovens (e adultos) permanece horas absorta em videogames? Por um lado, existe a variedade de mundos que podemos explorar. Por outro, existe a possibilidade da escolha do jogo e de quais objetivos perseguir. Além disso, existe a sensação de crescimento e desenvolvimento ao i) memorizar personagens (habilidades e movimentação), ii) solucionar problemas, explorar, testar, iii) lidar com frustração, iv) aumentar a coordenação motora, visual, sensorial e auditiva. E por fim, existe a sensação de estarmos no controle, podendo repetir a fase quantas vezes quisermos. E quando passamos de fase, adquirimos uma sensação de autocontrole e apoderamento.

Devemos, portanto, celebrar inovadores como Sugata Mitra e seus experimentos em ambientes de aprendizagem auto-organizados. Em diversos vilarejos pobres, Mitra instalou computadores com acesso à internet em uma parede — e foi embora. As crianças eventualmente descobriram o equipamento e começaram a brincar com ele, apesar de não ter nenhum conhecimento computacional ou domínio sobre línguas estrangeiras. Os resultados do experimento chamado “Buraco na Parede” não supervisionado são impressionantes.

Todos nós podemos concordar com a famosa frase de Ann Landers: “se você acha a educação é cara, experimente a ignorância”. Mas vamos considerar de forma mais ativa a inquietante possibilidade que a deseducação é ainda mais cara, e que muitos métodos de escolarização tradicionais prejudicam a educação.

* * *

hicks-stephen-2013“A educação está ficando muito cara?” Por Stephen Hicks. Tradução de Matheus Pacini. Revisão de Ivanildo Santos III. Artigo Original no “The Good Life”. Visite Publicações em Português para ler os últimos artigos de Stephen Hicks.

Stephen Hicks é o autor do livro Explicando o Pós Modernismo e Nietzsche and the Nazis.

Entrepreneurial Education conference — Call for Papers

Entrepreneurial Education conference

apple-176x100Sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship
Rockford University, Illinois

Call for Papers

The Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship will be hosting a conference at Rockford University, March 13-14, 2016, on Entrepreneurial Education.

On the Entrepreneurial side of the phrase: We live in entrepreneurial times. From the work demand side, there is increasing proportion of employment within entrepreneurial firms and a slow upward trend in the number of startups. From the work-supply side, younger people of this generation express higher levels of aspiration to start their own businesses or to work within entrepreneurial firms. Increasing globalization and liberalization also mean that the entrepreneurial trends are not only regional or national.

On the Education side: How can we best help younger people become entrepreneurial—either to prepare them for creating their own businesses, or to be entrepreneurial within existing firms, or as freelancing artists, writers, and musicians? If the traditional model of education—students sitting in straight rows of desks and all doing the same work at the same time following the directions of an authority figure—does not prepare students for entrepreneurism, then what should we replace it with?

We also live in a time of dissatisfaction with the dominant forms of education, with many complaints about stagnant or declining outcomes, bureaucratization, demoralization and worse, especially in poorer neighborhoods.

And we live in times of disruptive education technologies—from simple email and online chat to pre-packaged podcasts and video series to robust online MOOCs and more.

Putting all of the above together, how do we answer this question: What should entrepreneurial education look like?

Submissions

Please send 200-word proposals to CEE@Rockford.edu, attention Stephen Hicks and Jennifer Harrolle, by January 20, 2016.

Acceptances will be made by January 25, 2016.

burpee

This conference will be made possible in part by support from the John Templeton Foundation.

Cobrar mensalidades nas faculdades é uma questão moral

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A educação superior pode ser um caminho para uma vida bem-sucedida. Ainda assim, muitas pessoas bem-sucedidas não se formaram na faculdade e muitas pessoas malsucedidas têm notas surpreendentemente boas.

Então, quem deveria ir para a faculdade? E quem deveria pagar por isso? Vamos começar por imaginar um estudante mediano que deseja ir para a faculdade, mas não tem dinheiro. Compare as opções daquele estudante em dois sistemas educacionais (a) estatal e o (b) privado, de livre mercado.

Em um sistema estatal, o governo paga a mensalidade. O estudante eventualmente termina seus estudos, arranja um emprego e começa a pagar impostos.

Para estudar, em um sistema de livre mercado, o estudante opta por uma combinação de trabalho, doações, bolsas e empréstimos de amigos, familiares e bancos. O estudante eventualmente termina seus estudos, arranja um emprego e começa a pagar os empréstimos feitos.

Então, qual é a diferença?

Em ambos os sistemas, o estudante paga os custos de sua educação — no sistema estatal, por meio de impostos pagos ao longo de sua vida; no sistema de livre mercado, por meio do pagamento dos empréstimos pelo dinheiro obtido via trabalho.

Continue reading Cobrar mensalidades nas faculdades é uma questão moral

Corporate funding and academic freedom

Clemson University professor C. Bradley Thompson has a good article answering the question “Do Corporate Donors Threaten Academic Freedom?”

It prompts me to post here my remarks from 2008, then published as “The Ethics of Outside Funding” [pdf]. The text follows:

THE ETHICS OF OUTSIDE FUNDING

Stephen R. C. Hicks
Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship & Department of Philosophy
Rockford College, 5050 East State Street, Rockford, IL 61108

[Published in Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society, 2008. Based on a talk given at the IABS Conference, Tampere, Finland, 2008.]

My brief remarks are organized under three headings: academic freedom, academic integrity, and the status of Ayn Rand as an intellectual.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

Consider the following four scenarios:

* You are chair of your college’s theatre department. A regional theatre group offers $200,000 to fund at your college a year-long series of performances of plays by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht.
* You are director of college art gallery. A local art patron offers your college $30,000 to put on a showing of the works of pop artist Andy Warhol.
* You are a research professor of biology. A pharmaceutical company is investigating therapeutic potential of stem cells and offers $2.5 million to fund a research project if you are willing to work on stem cells.
* You are a professor of Eastern European languages. I am a student at your college and I come to you and offer you $100 per hour if you will tutor me in reading Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons in the original Russian.

In these four cases, do you have before you four opportunities, which you may or may not choose to pursue? Or are you faced with four threats to your academic freedom? And does anything change if the proposed funding is for academic projects in philosophy, religion, politics, or economics?

The questions matter because we academics have fought for many centuries to win the degree of academic freedom that we enjoy today in higher education. Defending that academic freedom is an ongoing challenge, sometimes a battle, on many fronts.

One challenge involves money. Higher education is an expensive enterprise, so we seek funding, lots of it. We can ask our students to pay tuition, we can ask governments to divert tax dollars to us, or we can ask for donations from alumni, private foundations, and businesses. Sometimes we academics initiate the ask, and sometimes the offer is initiated by students, governments, or private parties. In each case there is an opportunity, and in each case there is possible pressure: all sources of funding have a quid pro quo.

Continue reading Corporate funding and academic freedom