ERIC Number: EJ907603
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 0
A Not-so-Slippery Slope
Brandt, Allan M.
Academe, v96 n6 p25-27 Nov-Dec 2010
Few issues have drawn such persistent and divisive debate in recent years as tobacco-industry funding of university research. Although a number of institutions have developed policies to prohibit such funding in the last few years, others have taken large grants from tobacco companies. Today, a number of prominent hospitals, medical schools, and schools of public health have established policies prohibiting tobacco-industry research funding. But that view draws opposition within the academy. Even some who disapprove of the historic misdeeds of Big Tobacco defend the right of researchers and universities to continue to accept tobacco money. They typically point to two related arguments. First, academic freedom supports the right of faculty members to take funding from any "legitimate" source, even those in political disfavor. Second, banning a particular industry because it is held in low public esteem creates a "slippery slope" that threatens to subject universities to continuous debate about whether particular funders are appropriate and legitimate. These are precisely the arguments that the American Association of University Professors has offered in establishing its policies about corporate funding, specifically addressing the tobacco-funding controversy. As a strong advocate for academic freedom and a historian who has devoted many years to studying the history of the tobacco industry and cigarette smoking, the author finds these arguments and policies deeply flawed. He contends that academic institutions can discern tobacco companies' motivation for funding research and can make considered judgments about whether to accept or reject the industry's money. Making such judgments is at the heart of the academy's collective responsibilities, which include affirming values, maintaining public trust, and serving the public good.
Descriptors: Universities, School Business Relationship, Corporate Support, Industry, Smoking, Deception, Motivation
American Association of University Professors. 1012 Fourteenth Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 800-424-2973; Tel: 202-737-5900; Fax: 202-737-5526; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.aaup.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A