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New Paper Examines Funding of Attacks on Higher Education

New Paper Examines Funding of Attacks on Higher Education

Diverse Education

Johnny Jackson
May 31, 2024
A new white paper, released by the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) Center for the Defense of Academic Freedom, details an outgrowth of a coordinated campaign to generate a backlash against academic institutions.
Manufacturing Backlash: Right-Wing Think Tanks and Legislative Attacks on Higher Education” describes well-funded, widespread political attacks on higher education, comprising legislative pursuits that undermine academic freedom and university autonomy.
AAUP President Dr. Irene Mulvey made this case in a May 22 statement during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing with higher education administrators.
“Academic freedom is essential to promote open inquiry, debate, and discussion, and to provide an environment to support education in service of understanding and an appreciation of different points of view, even in disagreement,” said Mulvey.
The Center for the Defense of Academic Freedom white paper explores whether and how 11 think tanks helped created a self-reinforcing echo chamber of reports, commentary, webinars, op-eds, and other content villainizing faculty and academic institutions.
More than 150 bills were introduced in 35 state legislatures between 2021 and 2023, including 99 academic gag orders seeking to ban the teaching of “critical race theory” or other so-called “divisive concepts,” according to the paper. Several states have successfully begun efforts to defund campus diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and weaken tenure and accreditation.
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