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The Midmorning Refill: A look at CAP's new report, 'Big Oil Goes to College'

Today’s Flickr Photo

Flickr photo by soonerpa.

If you read one thing today . . .

The federal government and private industry have always had a heavy influence in some of the cutting-edge research done on our university campuses. But a new Center for American Progress report warns that as the federal government’s investment in energy research drops to close to nothing, Big Oil has stepped in to fill the void — and as CAP points out, that’s not such a good thing. Emily Badger in Miller-McCune writes:

The new report, “Big Oil Goes to College,” analyzed more specifically the legal contracts binding 10 multimillion-dollar, multiyear partnerships between big research universities and “Big Oil” — Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. The deals represent $883 million in industry-funded energy research over 10 years.

“Essentially what we found was that the contract language in these 10 agreements did not always adequately protect academic freedom and academic transparency, exactly the characteristics of the academy that make universities so credible,” said Jennifer Washburn, the independent researcher who authored the report, as well as the 2005 book University, Inc.


Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, showed off her encyclopedic grasp of the U.S. Constitution at a debate at Widener University Law School. During an exchange on the teaching of creationism in public schools, O’Donnell asked her opponent “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” The answer, of course, is the First Amendment. Erin Daly, a Widener professor recounts the scene:

“She seemed genuinely surprised that the principle of separation of church and state derives from the First Amendment, and I think to many of us in the law school that was a surprise,” Daly said. “It’s one thing to not know the 17th Amendment or some of the others, but most Americans do know the basics of the First Amendment.”