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Alice Dreger is an historian of medicine and science, a sex researcher, and an advocate of academic freedom. She is the author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice. In this episode, I talk to her about why she blames university brand management, and the corporatization of academia more broadly, for the policing of research, which has now become common in academic life. We talk about how the increasing reliance on external research funding has spurred attention to university brand management, and Alice also presents her recommendations for what to do if you are caught up in an academic controversy.
I went to my [Northwestern] university provost and said, “Admit that this was censorship and say that you won’t do it again.” He would not do that. And It seemed that he was legitimately afraid at that point of the [university] hospital corporation, which I found deeply concerning. And that’s why I finally did just resign. You can’t have any integrity if you have a major book out on academic freedom telling people to stand up for their academic rights and you’re allowing your university dean to tell you what you can and can’t publish.
One thing I recommend to people, the minute they start to get into trouble with academic freedom, is that they contact FIRE because it’s one of the few organizations out there that will defend you for free and will do so vigorously. And universities do care about their FIRE rating. They really do care about It. So it matters.
Music: “Ave Marimba” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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