Programming Note: Darts and Letters is off. We are producing a new season on Cited Podcast, which is called “the Rationality Wars“.

EP36: Koch Block My Campus (ft. James L. Turk & Jasmine Banks)

Right wing money in academia is pervasive and influential. Libertarian-minded billionaires like the Kochs and their partners have funded scholars and think tanks across the US, and similar things go on in Canada too. The money shows us that the right spends it because they care about education. Maybe not in the classic way—higher learning, enlightenment, the pursuit of Truth or truth or whatever you want to call it. They care about education because they believe it can change the world. It’s an investment, and big money expects a return. Lucky for them, and unlucky for the rest of us, universities are happy to sell out. On this episode of Darts and Letters, we explore big money and its corrosive influence on academic freedom and academic integrity.

  • First (@7:22), just how far does the Koch network’s scholarly funding extend? Jasmine Banks is the executive director of UnKoch My Campus—a non-profit dedicated to identifying and the impact of investors and their dark money investments on higher education. She takes us through the role of dark money and wealthy investors in shaping campus life and, more broadly, the country and the world.
  • Then (@33:02), we look back on the long history of campuses for sale. Professor James L. Turk is the director of the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University and the former executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. He tells us stories of the right wing in academia—from the robber barons at the turn of the century, to the battles of today—and talks about how scholars and academic unions have pushed back.


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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn and our assistant producer this week was Jason Cohanim. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop is our research assistant and wrote the show notes. We had research and advising from Franklynn Bartol and Professor Marc Spooner.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of neoliberal educational reforms. Professor Marc Spooner at the University of Regina is the lead academic advisor.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

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