The Politics of Research: Academic Freedom, Governmental Funding, and Public Accountability

June 12, 2019, 6-8 pm
Panel Discussion at the GHI
Panelists: Mary Sue Coleman (AAU), Julika Griem (DFG), Wilhelm Krull (Volkswagen Foundation), Jon P. Peede (NEH), and Pauline Yu (ACLS), moderated by Doug Lederman (Inside Higher Ed)

Organized by German Historical Institute Washington (GHI), German Research Foundation (DFG), North America Office

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Scientific and academic research is not a purely intellectual pursuit. It requires sufficient funds to run a medical laboratory, to compile sociological data, or to conduct archival research. No university, government agency or private foundation has unlimited means at its disposal to underwrite such investigations and thus priorities need to be established to guide funding decisions. This panel discussion will explore the criteria used in research funding decisions and the non-academic considerations that shape both public and private research funding policies. It will address questions such as: How far should notions of “utility” guide decisions on funding research? How should funders weigh the competing claims of “academic freedom” and “public accountability”? How large a say should funding agencies have in setting the research agendas of the various branches of science and scholarship? How can funding agencies most effectively serve the often-mentioned goal of “innovation”?