Jennifer Washburn
Jennifer Washburn

University Inc.

The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education

During the past two decades, commercial forces have quietly transformed virtually every aspect of academic life. Corporate funding of universities is growing, and the money comes with strings attached. In return for this largesse, universities are acting more and more like for-profit patent factories and professors are behaving more and more like businessmen. Secrecy is replacing the free flow of basic knowledge, university funds are shifting from the humanities to more commercially lucrative science labs, and the skill of teaching is valued less and less.

The consequences of the new "academic-industrial complex" are wide-ranging and disturbing. In her hard-hitting expose, investigative journalist Jennifer Washburn reveals how conflicts of interest involving individual scientists — and often entire universities — have led to compromised research and a loss of scholarly independence. This toxic mix of science and profit in areas ranging from medicine to the environment jeopardizes the well-being of millions who rely on the historic impartiality of academic research. It is eroding academic freedom and weakening the university's capacity to perform ground-breaking research and innovation.

Drawing on extensive interviews and original research, Washburn paints an alarming picture of how one of America's most prized institutions — and the nation's last refuge for independent thought — is being colonized by a market ideology that is fundamentally at odds with the university's core academic values. At a time when universities try to convert professors into "content providers" and students into "consumers," when scientists neglect the long-term interests of their field in favor of short-term personal gain, and when professors paid by drug manufacturers dole out lavish endorsements for new medicines, Washburn's book offers a rigorous and important analysis of the deteriorating state of our higher education system today.

Adapted from text on the front flap of the book jacket.  See: Jennifer Washburn, University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education, Basic Books, New York, 2005, 326 pp.

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