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University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education Paperback – 22 Aug 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New Ed edition (22 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465090524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465090525
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,469,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Jennifer Washburn is currently a Fellow at the New America Foundation. Formerly a Fellow at the Open Society Institute and a senior research associate for the Arms Trade Resource Center of the World Policy Institute at the New School for Socia

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jennifer Washburn's investigation inside U.S. universities is disturbing. She paints a portrait of colleges that have forgotten their primary mission and societal role. That is upsetting enough for readers who cherish fond memories of free-thinking college days, but its implications reach far wider. She cites restraints on free inquiry and free speech that should alarm civil libertarians. Her reports of far-reaching attempts to generate profit through patents and technology transfers should concern businesspeople. The most perturbing element of Washburn's analysis covers how drug and medical trials have changed, as their control has shifted from the impartial hand of traditional science to the vested authority of pharmaceutical companies. She even implies that anyone using a drug developed in such trials is at risk. The issues in higher education are so sweeping that, at times, Washburn's treatment is more a foreboding sketch than a complete analysis. That aside, We recommend it to anyone interested in a well-articulated, strong point of view about higher education, or anyone who follows the issues involved in having a well-functioning civic society, including quality higher education.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8e239b34) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e338c84) out of 5 stars University Inc: Where do we go from here? 25 Mar. 2005
By Donald - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Over the last several decades Federal and State governments, despite promises to the contrary, have gradually withdrawn much, if not almost all, support from public and private colleges and universities. As a result, institutions of higher learning have had to turn increasingly to corporate and philanthropic 'gifts' and industry contracts in order to survive and attract students and faculty. Instead of giving primary focus to training, education, scholarship and research, our colleges and universities have had to market themselves as 'products worth purchasing by the consumer---the parents, students, donors and alumni and corporations. Both science and humanities faculty are now being encouraged to become entrepreneurs rather than merely educators and have to seek ways to profit directly from their intellectual and technical pursuits. "University Inc" is a highly informative, well-written, if sometimes anecdotal, investigative report about the most egregious cases of commodifying higher education and of corporate influence over university polices and educational practices. It is an easy-to-read book that has been written to aggravate and challenge the reader. Sometimes it gets a bit too personal, but its a lot better read than a collection of dry data supporting the contention that universities have gone overboard in permitting the business world to dictate academic and educational policies and programs of research. Washburn's book is a "must read" for anyone interested in the future of higher education.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e338ba0) out of 5 stars A Stunning Investigation of the Modern University 23 April 2005
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jennifer Washburn has written the most important book about the impact of corporate culture on higher education since Thorstein Veblen's 1918 classic,The Higher Learning in America. Over the past quarter-century, Washburn shows, our leading universities have quietly allowed themselves to be transformed into "patent factories" generating income for the campuses and their corporate backers. The ability of faculty to produce basic knowledge has been compromised by the competitiveness, secrecy, and profit-seeking that characterize private sector (as opposed to traditional academic) research. Because they are less lucrative than the patent-generating disciplines, the social sciences and humanities have been downgraded. Emphasis on teaching, which is expensive and unrelated to patentable research, has diminished. Conflict of interest has run rampant. Washburn devoted the better part of a decade to research for this book, which is a model of investigative journalism. Indeed, I know of no more important study of the American university in print.
John Broesamle
Professor Emeritus of History
California State University, Northridge
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e30e1b0) out of 5 stars I feel sick 19 July 2005
By J. Wellington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This has to be one of the saddest books I've read in a while. It's beautifully ironic. This book comes along and laments of the conflicts of interests with the marriage of universities and business while I am learning to embrace that I can love to have money.

I graduated from the University of Southern California and had a sense that something was amiss in the university system. Back then, I saw a university that catered strongly to the football program and felt like I was getting the scraps. The football program brought in the money and with the latest successes some immeasurable advertising.

However, there was an uneasy truce of advancing education and earning money. A university gets all excited about a new corporate sponsor giving millions to a department. But what if the corporate sponsor stipulates that the money be spent on research for the advancement of the sponsor's own products? Or that any breakthroughs from the research would be considered the assets of the sponsor's? And what happens when a professor mentoring graduate students is an owner of a private company?

In the former scenario, the research would have a STRONG affinity toward saying something positive about the sponsor's product. What department would say something bad about their sponsor even if research says so? There's statistics that would be some bias. In the second scenario, the spirit of research/education in a university environment is stymied and looks more like competing departments in a business or competing businesses. Instead of open sharing of ideas at the local coffeehouse, students are making fake notes to disguise their research from each other. In the final scenario, we may have a professor who only supports a thesis that supports his stock portfolio.

I recommend the book for anyone who is in the process of higher education or thinking of going in that direction. It could turn your head. There's a whole lot of research and data in this book that began to numb my brain. I give the book 4 stars because it was difficult to read - perhaps more because of the revelation of the corruption of higher education. It will make a lot of you sick.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e338bc4) out of 5 stars Gritty, thorough and uncompromising 29 Dec. 2005
By John Harpur - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over the past twenty years a flash flood of books has appeared which are critical of the intrusion of business models into the University. Washburn's book is striking the same vein - a cynic might sneer that the debate is beginning to have a 'burnt over' look to it. However, Washburn's book is unique in several respects. In the first instance it is very well written, well-paced, and the narrative fairly gallops along. Secondly, the examples of corporate contamination that she focuses on clearly illuminate the ambiguities that the University is prepared to live with, well at least the ambiguities that an Administration will live with. Moreover, Washburn identifies the tension between good old professor X receiving his state salary and good old entrepreneur professor X receiving huge sums of money from his privileged access to the social capital floating in the University environment. There are several very telling quotes from academics who believe it unwise to speak about their research too publicly lest a 'colleague' harness it to his or her own commercial enterprise. Thirdly, Washburn is balanced in her analysis. While acknowledging that corporatism can threaten many traditional values in the University, she is phelgmatic enough to acknowledge that some level of corporatism is both desirable and unavoidable (Roger Geiger in his book 'Knowledge and Money' refers to this nexus as the 'paradox of the marketplace'). The dilemma for Washburn and all who wish to espouse a both/and position on Business and the University, rather than an either/or position, is how to turn a seemingly sensible policy into a set of sensible procedures. Almost all books in this genre grudgingly accept the policy but few have ever laid out procedures to make it credible. Washburn goes some way towards closing the circle here (for instance, her proposal for an ammended Bayh-Dole Act and the setting up of specialist research contact points for industry). In conclusion then, Washburn's book is more grounded in the realities of the political economy than most. This is a debate that won't end soon. Every age has looked to the fruits of knowledge and discovery to oil the wheels of commercial progress. In the past much of this debate was hidden or disdained largely because participation in the University was for the elite - meaning those that had some money in their background. The opening of education and communication in the past thirty years however and the rapid growth of economies due to globalisation has created a new set of arguments to toss into the debate. Washburn's book is part of this new movement. A welcome breadth of fresh air.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e338f18) out of 5 stars Ethical Challenges To The Future Of Higher Education 27 Mar. 2005
By G. Reid - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Universities are on a slippery slope taking corporate money. BookTV has an excellent author interview available which was taped on 3/3/05. The author discusses hush orders at universities that are taking corporate money. This taking of corporate money usually does not serve the public good because the university has to serve its coporate master. Academic freedom is damaged.

The author, Jennifer Washburn, explains that historically universities have always placed great importance on academic freedom. Now, with the lust for money, research universities are becoming more like corporations and sometimes invest the university's own endowment into ventures where the university is attempting to profit on its own research. There is a blurring of the lines between business and academic independence.

There is a tension between teaching and research at universities. Teaching has been downsized with more resources going into research.

There is a need for much more stringent conflict-of-interest rules. Unfortunately, some professors have their own business ventures on the side and are bleeding research results into the business ventures.
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