The integrity of university research under threat



    OTTAWA, Nov. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - The objectivity of university research is
under threat from the growing influence of industry, governments and other
outside interest groups, academics are warning.
    Meeting at a conference in Ottawa today, scholars and researchers from
across Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are examining the
threats to the integrity and independence of academic work.
    Keynote speaker Sheldon Krimsky, Professor of Urban & Environmental
Policy at Tufts University, addressed whether academic entrepreneurship can be
reconciled with the integrity of science.
    "Universities in the United States and Canada have become too easily
colonized by corporations and turned into academic enterprise zones. New
revenue streams for academia have come at the expense of integrity, autonomy
and free and open exchange of knowledge," he said.
    Krimsky, author of Science in the Private Interest: Has the Lure of
Profits Corrupted Biomedical Research? (2003), also noted that "Egregious
conflicts of interest in science and medicine within government and
universities have affected the objectivity of research studies and impaired
public confidence in these fields."
    The conference, Protecting the Integrity of Academic Research, is being
hosted by the Harry Crowe Foundation in conjunction with the Canadian
Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
    "The outside pressures on universities and colleges are affecting how
well we as a society learn, and what we are allowed to ask questions about,"
said CAUT Executive Director James Turk. "The public needs to understand, and
be aware of the manipulations affecting basic research and our quality of
learning and teaching."
    Other topics that will be addressed over the three-day conference
include:

    
    - Our production-driven research culture: causes, problems and remedies,
      with speaker Sir David Wallace, Master of Churchill College and
      Director of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences,
      University of Cambridge. Sir David is also Treasurer and Vice-President
      of the Royal Society, UK.

    - Politico-science: governmental avoidance, abuse and manipulation of
      scientific research with speaker Kurt Gottfried, Chair of the Board of
      Directors for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Professor Gottfried is
      a Professor of Physics Emeritus at Cornell University.

    - Principles and interest: corporate pressures and sponsored research,
      with speaker Seth Shulman, author of Undermining Science: Suppression
      and Distortion in the Bush Administration. Shulman is an independent
      journalist whose books cover a range of topics in the area of science
      and technology. He was lead author on the Union of Concerned
      Scientists' 2007 report "Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses
      Big Tobacco's Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science."
    

    A complete agenda listing all topics and speakers is available at
http://www.crowefoundation.ca/Conferences/2007/

    The Harry Crowe Foundation, named for the person whose academic freedom
case gave rise to the CAUT, was established in 2002 to carry out education and
research on the role of post-secondary teaching and research in contemporary
society.

    CAUT is the national voice of more than 57,000 academic and general staff
at universities and colleges across Canada.




For further information:

For further information: James Turk, Executive Director (CAUT), (613)
726-5176, turk@caut.ca; Marcus Harvey, Professional Officer - Policy &
Research (CAUT), (613) 726-5191, harvey@caut.ca; Lisa Keller, Professional
Officer - Communications (CAUT), (office) (613) 726-5186, (cell) (613)
282-9619, keller@caut.ca

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Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

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HARRY CROWE FOUNDATION

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