Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This post raises some very good questions about how academic activities, such as speaking engagements, are funded. But it also, I think, speaks from a position of privilege. Specifically, writes Shannon Dea, "Since I wouldn't put 'sponsored by the Koch Foundation' on my business cards, I won't participate in initiatives they support." This works if you have other opportunities and if you feel strongly enough about your politics that you won't engage with people with whom you disagree. Neither applies to most people.

Where I do agree with Dea is that it is important to be very clear about what strings are attached - there are always some conditions (for example, you may actually have to give the talk, you may have to attend meetings, you may have to produce a report, etc.). Your institution, if you work for one, will also impose its own conditions. Personally, I reject conditions I can't accept - some obvious, like being told what to say, and some less obvious, like signing over ownership of my work. As for ethics, well, if I held everyone to my own ethical standards, i wouldn't work with very many people at all.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Sept 26, 2023 12:56 a.m.

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