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Tue Aug 11, 2015, 06:49 PM

 

Scott Walker wants to fire academics with whom he disagrees politically [View all]

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/11/scott-walker-wants-fire-academics-disagrees-politically

The work of scientists often produces facts that are uncomfortable and inconvenient to the interests of those in power. That’s why we should all be concerned that, recently, politicians are testing new tactics in their attempts to strip scientific inquiry of its independence. Nowhere is this more on display than in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature have joined forces to gut statutory guarantees of tenure and shared governance – the twin pillars protecting academic freedom and the integrity of scientific research – in the University of Wisconsin system.

Tenure – earned by a researcher after many years of work, original contributions to the body of knowledge that constitutes his or her discipline and extensive vetting by his or her institutional and disciplinary colleagues – protects academic freedom and scientific integrity by making it so that the researcher can’t be fired for investigating awkward questions or reaching conclusions powerful people don’t like. Shared governance is the means by which academics shape their institutions’ academic programs – through the development of curriculum and the hiring of faculty - to meet the highest standards in the production and dissemination of knowledge.

In Wisconsin, legislators have just lowered the high bar for dismissing tenured faculty at the direct demand of Scott Walker and the state Republican regime. Shared governance, in which the Wisconsin university system once led the world, has been reduced to a mere advisory process. In practice, this means that decisions about academic programs – and the faculty who work on them – will be made by administrators who are either themselves political appointees or who serve at the leisure of these appointees.

The consequences of these changes are likely to be immediate, concrete and negative both for the state of Wisconsin and for the community that depends on the knowledge the state’s university researchers create. As the author of the scientific work that undergirds the “hockey stick” graph illustrating the unprecedented nature of human-caused climate change, Michael Mann, co-author of this article and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, has been the subject of baseless politically motivated attacks, as he has detailed in his book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.


Coming soon to a country near you?

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Reply Scott Walker wants to fire academics with whom he disagrees politically [View all]
KamaAina Aug 2015 OP
951-Riverside Aug 2015 #1
valerief Aug 2015 #2
AwakeAtLast Aug 2015 #13
NastyRiffraff Aug 2015 #3
hifiguy Aug 2015 #9
Fred Sanders Aug 2015 #4
TeddyR Aug 2015 #5
malaise Aug 2015 #6
smirkymonkey Aug 2015 #7
hifiguy Aug 2015 #8
Blue Owl Aug 2015 #10
Proud Liberal Dem Aug 2015 #11
Deadshot Aug 2015 #12