Another Dubious Academic Project?

The indispensable Erin O’Connor, writing this morning on her web site, Critical Mass, discusses an astonishing memo from Peter Dreier of Occidental College and two other progressives seeking “paid academic research” that can “serve in the battle with conservative ideas.” The project, sponsored by the Center on Policy Initiatives in San Diego, will pay fifty cents a word to professors and graduate students in history, sociology, economics, political science, planning, public health, and public policy. The “Cry Wolf Project,” as it is called, lists as its coordinators, Dreier; Nelson Lichtenstein, a historian at UC Santa Barbara and Donald Cohen, executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives. The title of the project reflects the belief that conservatives control political narratives by predicting disaster if progressive policies are pursued. The briefs are supposed to be scrupulously accurate, but obviously prepared to pursue a pre-determined agenda to be spread through the mainstream media.
O’Connor writes: “Grad students can now make fifty cents a word to scramble the difference between disinterested scholarship and agenda-driven advocacy work.” She argues that the project “explicitly supports the arguments of those who would say that large swaths of academia are little more than publicly funded mechanisms for disseminating and producing an ideologically-driven world view.”
We will investigate this ethically dubious project in coming days.

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

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