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Crossposted from Greenpeace's blog, the EnvironmentaLIST.

Students at Florida State University are telling Charles Koch to stop compromising academic integrity with multimillion dollar grants that come with strings attached.

You may recall: back in 2011, two Florida State University (FSU) professors revealed that the Charles Koch Foundation was given inappropriate control over the professor hiring process in the economics department, where millions of dollars were granted from the Kansas billionaire. Three years later, the case still isn't closed on this corporate manipulation of university functions. The FSU students write:

Our university’s academic integrity has already been compromised from the influence of high-dollar donors like Koch, who managed to assume inappropriate control over our economics department’s curriculum and hiring process per an agreement signed in 2008. Three years have passed since FSU professors exposed Koch’s financial grip over our school and a committee of faculty senators formally rejected several stipulations of the agreement. Yet, it is clear that the administration refuses to act to appropriately limit outside influence on FSU’s educational operations.

A new agreement with Koch, signed by both ex-President Barron and current Interim President Garnett Stokes, still contains many provisions from the original agreement that were explicitly rejected by the faculty senators who reviewed it. Barron himself stated that the initial agreement “did provide the opportunity for outside influence” from Koch. This leads us to question whether the new agreement leaves that influence intact.

The op-ed focuses on the departure of Eric Barron, who is transitioning into the president's office at Penn State University after serving as president of Florida State University.

Mr. Barron is being celebrated for his expertise in climate science as he cycles into his new position at Penn State (which also gets money from Charles Koch).

Why does this matter? What's the relevance of President Eric Barron's climate change credentials?

Let's start with Florida State's economics department. FSU's economics department has received much of the $3,898,657 itemized to FSU in the Charles Koch Foundation's tax filings from 2009 to 2012.

Beyond the well-documented concerns highlighted by FSU students and professors alike, FSU's Koch-funed economics department appears to host professors who are misrepresenting climate science, a field well outside of their credentialed expertise.

Ph.D economist Yoram Bauman has twice reviewed and ranked economics textbooks for how accurately they portray climate change science. Citing top climate science institutions like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Bauman has repeatedly given a failing grade to a widely-used textbook authored by professors from several of the top Koch-funded schools across the country, including FSU. Three of these four authors have direct ties to FSU: one primary author is a current economics professor, one formerly taught in the FSU econ department, and one obtained his economics Ph.D at FSU.

These same four professors, who aren't climate scientists yet authored the worst economics textbooks in regard to climate science misinformation, are affiliated with numerous Koch-funded climate denial organizations. Such affiliations include the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute, The Heartland Institute, the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and the Association for Private Enterprise Education (APEE). These professors are closely affiliated with groups created and directly overseen by the Koch brothers, like the Cato Institute in Washington, DC and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

All of these climate denial front groups are affiliated through a Koch-funded umbrella called the State Policy Network. Koch Industries' executives are well-known for dumping tens of millions of dollars into organizations that deny the science or the solutions to global climate change. Now it appears that Koch-funded professors may be an extension of the same political campaign.

Florida State University students and faculty alike have good reason to ask hard questions about Charles Koch's grants to FSU. Whether or not the Koch money caused or simply encourages such manipulated teaching doesn't matter--lying to students about science is wrong and its one of the key controversial things that KochWorld has a habit of funding.

It is directly contrary to the principles of academic freedom for Koch to walk in and fund departments that then impose a curriculum reflecting Charles Koch's business interests and political strategies. Florida State University explicitly honors the principles of academic freedom in Koch's crosshairs. FSU students Jerry Funt, Gladys Nobriga, Lissa Reed and Ralph Wilson conclude their opinion piece emphatically:

As students striving to live by the Florida State seal of Vires, Artes, and Mores — strength, skill, and character — we’d rather not surrender our character just to serve Charles Koch. Our impartiality is more valuable than his money.
With FSU's outgoing president Eric Barron taking the helm at Penn State University, a good first step would be to ensure that Charles Koch's grants to Penn State aren't affecting the presentation of climate science or other critical topics to the student body. As a climate scientist, Mr. Barron must know how much is at stake when conversations regarding climate change are polluted executives at companies like Koch Industries, which profit from oil and gas operations.

Greenpeace strives to support students who are questioning Koch's manipulation of education through high-dollar grants, especially in the realm of science. Check out the article and comments from the students themselves!

Check Greenpeace.org for more Koch Facts.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a great reminder of what is at stake (5+ / 0-)

    when the wealthy get control of everything.  The reality changes in frightening ways.  One can only hope that questioning minds continue to question...everything.
    The irony is that the Kochs use what is essentially taxpayer money to reshape American reality.  It's those oil and gas subsidies and enormous tax breaks that get thrown into the political, news/commentary (NPR) and academic arenas.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 07:37:26 AM PDT

    •  Their dad, Fred Koch made his fortune in (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      forgore, Cadillac64, trkingmomoe, judyms9

      Stalinist Russia with his cracking process that was tied up in litigation in the US. Communism made him rich, but he returned to the US to help found the virulently anti-communist John Birch Society. He hated Stalin's purge of engineers, but his sons work to purge anything that isn't in their own self-interest. What a family!

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 08:25:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Koch fiends making the dismal science more so /nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    forgore, Cadillac64

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 07:55:29 AM PDT

  •  My grand kids that are in college here in Florida (0+ / 0-)

    is very much aware of the Koch money at FSU.  The attend school in South Florida but is well known there is a problem with Koch trying to influence with their money pushing John Birch ideas.  The students in Tallahassee are probably not happy with the situation.  The young college students do understand climate change and the harm it is going to do to their futures.  

  •  those 4 profs ought to be crucified in public (0+ / 0-)

    they are nothing but whores

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 02:17:31 PM PDT

    •  I think you should apologize to whores. (0+ / 0-)

      They generally have better ethics than those professors.  

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 09:28:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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