by Marion Nestle
Nov 10 2010

Academe on “The Conflicted University”

Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors, devotes its current issue to corporate and professorial conflicts of interest.

I’m interviewed in this issue, in a Q and A with Academe editor Cat Warren: Big Food, Big Agra, and the Research University.

Guest editor Sheldon Krimsky explains that:

In this special issue, a group of internationally respected academics, science journalists, and other experts 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.

Here’s what’s in the rest of the issue—nothing more about food, but plenty that is relevant to the ethical and corporate issues I often discuss on this site :

Kneecapping” Academic Freedom: Corporate attacks on law school clinics are escalating.
Robert R. Kuehn and Peter A. Joy, law professors, Washington University in St. Louis

The Costs of a Climate of Fear: Ideological attacks on scientists undermine sound public policy.
Michael Halpern, program manager, 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, University of North Carolina at 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, Harvard University

The Historians of Industry: What happens when historians enter the courtroom? Mostly, industry rules.
Gerald Markowitz, historian, City University of New York, and David Rosner, historian, 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, University of Massachusetts Boston, and residential research fellow, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University

The Canadian Corporate-Academic Complex: The unhealthy collaboration of corporate funders and university administrators.
James Turk, executive director, Canadian Association of University Professors

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  • Anthro

    At least some are speaking out in defense of science and reason. The scientific community is sadly late in concluding that they must speak up for themselves, but better late than never–I hope.
    I’m not so sure I agree with Lisa Cosgrove–psychologists are notoriously suspect of medical treatment of what they perceive to be merely “issues” or some other such pseudo-scientific “belief”.

    So-called “Big Pharma” certainly has its’ problems, but developing meds for serious illnesses involving brain chemistry is not one of them. I speak as a mother of a benefactor of “Big Pharma”.

  • Cathy Richards

    What a wonderful list of real-life conspiracy issues. We need to help businesses provide services that help our society rather than hurt our society. But legally, publicly traded businesses can only act in their share holders best interest, so society’s interests have to coincide for them to work with us. The conflict is inherent in the system, and brave souls and watchdogs are needed to keep the system on its best behaviour. Hurray for this publication that will remind everyone of that.

  • Anthro

    @Cathy Richards

    Thank you for making that very important point. I keep harping on this issue, but yours is the first comment I’ve seen supporting this view. Simply complaining about the greed of corporations is not helpful as they are only doing what they must. Only serious regulation will put the brakes on what shareholders are able to demand from the corporations.