24 August 2016

Science & Diplomacy: Academic Freedom in a Globalized World

Lisa Anderson - 08.17.2016
The implications of the securitization of research, both in the sources and purposes of research funding and in who is permitted to conduct research, when, and where, should be taken up more vigorously by professional associations and academies. These implications are no less dazzling, tempting, and terrifying than those of the commercialization of scientific research in the era of Bayh-Dole,7 and they will only grow as terrorism drives government policies around the world. 
So in sum, my advice to the international community of research scholars and scientists:
1.     Don’t shun your colleagues. This plays into the hands of those who want to suppress research collaboration and does nothing to provide concrete support to fellow scholars and scientists.
2.     Don’t abandon your research goals. Be pragmatic, flexible, and attentive to the implications of your work for those who may carry it out and who may rely on it, but don’t succumb to intimidation—bullying only works as long as it works.
3.     Continue to name and shame, and take up individual cases. You will always feel terrible knowing both that there are hundreds more scholars and scientists caught invisibly between the permitted and the prohibited and that no individual is a saint, but a little courage, assistance, and comfort on your part is better than none.
4.     Finally, advocate and explain. You know what academic freedom is, mostly because you have been its beneficiary, and you should advocate the virtue and value of education and research proudly, confidently, and energetically, and be absolutely uncompromising in demanding the rights and responsibilities that sustain it, including freedom of information, expression, and association. You can tell the world what is lost by discouraging research: the capacity to cultivate and advance new ideas that will enhance the prospects for economic prosperity, human security, social justice, and dignity everywhere.


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