Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Science for Sale

Daniel S. Greenberg, Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards, and Delusions of Campus Capitalism(Chicago: University of Chicago, 2007) provides a balanced, critical, and somewhat hopeful analysis of the relationship between corporate research and the university. For example, Greenberg concludes that "overall, for protecting the integrity of science and reaping in benefits for society, wholesome developments now outweigh egregious failings -- though not by a wide margin. Nonetheless, the changes and trends are hopeful" (p. 256). While he argues that there are procedures, good ones generally, in place at universities to enable them to work carefully in research with the corporate and government sector, he is also cautious about the challenges ahead: "Temptations for ethical lapses are abetted by institutional factors that are untamed. The academic arms race giddily accelerates. In Ponzi-scheme fashion, it inflames the pursuit of money for constructing research facilities needed to attract high-salaried scientific superstars who can win government grants to perform research that will bring glory and more money to the university. Academe's pernicious enthrallment by the rating system of U.S. News & World Report is a disgrace of modern higher education" (p. 276). And so forth. . . . this is an important book.

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