Although UC-Berkeley's Academic Senate opted last week to skirt the issue of corporate research funding -- voting down resolutions that would have imposed strong oversight on the management of the new BP-sponsored Energy Biosciences Institute -- students have been more active about confronting questions of scientific integrity. The Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, representing the UC Berkeley student body, passed a resolution on Thursday, April 26, raising major concerns about the university's partnership with BP.
The resolution stated, "the University's mission to serve the public interest potentially differs from BP's profitseeking interests and shareholder accountability," and noted that "students of the University of California will perform the majority of the research under this collaboration and will be greatly impacted by the terms of the contract."
Urging the administration to block the contract until it had resolved issues of transparency and accountability, the students emphasized that as a public institution, the university's mission is "to foster the free and untrammeled exchange of information and ideas in all aspects of the work we do on this campus."
As the world heats up, it remains to be seen whether the demands of the other ethical (and economic) stakeholders in this debate, students and the public, will ultimately override the enticement of corporate research funding.
To track the latest developments on BP's climate-change ventures, visit the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights' Oilwatchdog blog.