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Transcription of tape of talk by Sheila Slaughter, December 3, 1998 at Temple University
Sheila Slaughter, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Arizona, has written on a variety of cutting-edge issues facing higher education, including intellectual property and technology. Her book, Academic Capitalism, discusses the shift of federal funding from basic to applied research, and the effect of that shift on the nature of faculty work and academic priorities. Her presentation will report on further research in this area and on its significance for all university faculty - not just those in the sciences.
Moving Toward Market in the Sciences,
the Arts, and Professional Schools
Thank you. I am pleased to be here today. I am going to talk about something somewhat different than the other speakers have spoken about. I am going to talk about public research universities and focus on research and how that shapes our mission, and what we do and what it will look like in the future for us. I will build on many of the points made by other speakers, but differ a little bit. So Bill said we were in an anti-state mode. I would argue that we're not really in an anti-state mode, we're just switching what we use state money for, from things that are perceived as public welfare functions,(and education, fortunately or unfortunately, is often one of them) to things that are better defined as a production function or a market orientation. So we're moving our public money, so that it is closer to the market in an effort to enhance American competitiveness. This is pervading the research arena and higher education. That's sort of what I am going to talk about right now.
Basically, I think it is possible to make a powerful case that science and technology in the United States have moved from Cold War to a competitiveness regime. Higher Education has ceased to be a policy arena in its own right and instead has become a subset of economic policy. I see the changes precipitated by structural changes in the political economy in the United States that resulted in a new political coalition in Congress, in the U.S. Congress, one that shaped really powerful and far-reaching competitiveness legislation in the 1980s and continues to shape it now. And I think what we need to remember always is the public monies we get in higher education are the result of political coalitions, they just don't come to us because we are good or wonderful and the like, as much as we would like to believe that. So my working assumption is that the political, economic coalition of Cold War years brought stability to what we see as basic science, the basic science machine that went from the immediate post-war era until about the 1980s. And now we're in a different period and dealing with different problems.
The major destabilizing events were the end of the Cold War, the rise of the Pacific Rim and the possibilities presented by intellectual property in an age of hyper capitalism and the possibility of profit in services as well. What happens is many sets of institutions, not only higher education but corporations as well, could see the organizational utility of a competitiveness policy in a destabilized global environment.
Before these destabilizing events the United States had two distinct and relatively stable policy coalitions with regard to research. These were the military industrial academic complex and the medical industrial academic complex. And the military industrial academic complex is the mission agencies - the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, Aerospace and generally the defense industries and its suppliers and contractors. The medical industrial academic coalition was the National Institutes of Health, and physicians and the pharmaceutical companies and non-profit health care organizations. What happened between 1970 and 1990 to these coalitions and they are pressured to deliver funds in certain ways to research universities, was that in the military industrial academic coalition, there was a major move toward diversification on the part of corporations. In other words they moved to manufacturing more than one product. They moved toward high technology and related products. Many defense firms left the defense industry, for example, Ford and Honeywell. Those that stayed became much more highly concentrated, but fewer and Martin Marietta merger is an example. In the 1990s only five got 60% or more of their business from DOD primes. What that meant was corporations generally were less dependent on the military and more eager for high technology strategies that enabled them to compete in a global marketplace.
There was a similar series of developments that happened in medicine. The 1970s, most medicine was located in non-profit hospitals and physicians associations were dominant players in the policy arena. Insurance was even non-profit as hard as that is to remember. Blue Cross and Blue Shield were non-profit organizations until I think the early 1980s. By the mid 1980s this had changed so dramatically that 82% of health care delivery was managed. The owners of most health care maintenance organizations were insurance companies. Insurance companies and the health maintenance organizations had major interests in biotechnology and drugs because that lowered the cost of labor intensive service. The major pharmaceuticals had major interests in biotechnology, as did agriculture in chemistry. What you get is a convergence of interests around making intellectual property and commodity out of biotechnology and medical products in a way that simply was not the case anymore. So that whole lobby and coalition changes and moves toward high technology strategies. What you have is these two joining together to form a competitiveness coalition, whose aims were to win control of the global markets through privatization and commodification of intellectual property and to establish government subsidies for high technology and producer service industries and to move R&D, including university R&D, toward commercial science and technology.
These coalitions were very successful in Congress. In the 80s there were over a dozen pieces of legislation passed ranging from the BiDole act in 1980 which allowed universities to own intellectual property through the National Cooperative Research Act which allowed relaxation of anti-trust laws so universities could come together to work across industries in an enterprise and do research, as for example, in the semitech arrangement in the microelectronics industry. And finally in the general agreement on tariff and trades which was sort of a global intellectual property protection strategy. And around the coalition except for NAFTA, 70% or more of both houses voted for the legislation. We're talking about the period from 1980 - 1994. I must stress that the legislation is only one aspect of the rulemaking structures that shape competitiveness for R&D policies. Other legal structures that are important to creating a climate that promotes competitiveness are: administrative interpretations of new laws, rulings by administrative law judges and litigation in the civil courts. For example, the Internal Revenue Service does not tax universities royalty income creating a strong incentive for universities to encourage patenting and copyrighting. They don't tax as long as you plow back into the research arena in the university. In 1980, in Chakravarti vs. Diamond the Supreme Court ruled that living organisms were patentable. In the same year, the Patent and Trademarks Office issued the Cohen-Boyer patent on RDNA to Stanford. In 1988 the Patent and Trademarks Office issued Harvard a patent on the transgenic mouse later globally marketed as "Uncle Mouse" by Dupont, a research tool. In 1990, the California Supreme Court ruled that a patient did not have property right in their own body parts after they were used by researchers to develop a commercial important cell line. So we have these rule-making modalities other than legislation and they are acting with the new statutes I described to create a dense administrative legal infrastructure for this new competitiveness policy. What happened then was that the competitiveness coalition changed the climate and allowed public and non-profit entities whether universities or government agencies, or non-profit research institutes to enter the market.
And it changed our common sense understanding of what is public and what is private. Institutions still labeled public and non-profit were able to patent and profit from discoveries made by their professional employees. Simultaneously, private profit-making organizations were able to make alienable areas of public life previously held by the community as a whole, scientific knowledge, databases, technology, strains and properties of plants, even living animals and fragments of human beings. Historically, this shift in ownership rights is on a scale with the enclosures of communal property by large landholders in Great Britain and Latin America with the onset of market economies. Competitiveness legislation made possible the fluid movement of commodities and capital among private and non-profit and public institutions and academe fluidity gave rise to new organizational forms, arms lengths agencies run by universities to handle profit making activities, for-profit corporations created with non-profit and state funds collaborative research agreements that were funded by university government corporate contributions and which a variety of arrangements could be made about ownership of intellectual property and disposition of profits. These changes in academic organizations complemented changes in corporate structures facilitating academic interaction with corporations pursuing nexus of contract strategies. These changes integrated the state into the production process more directly than before, to some degree rendering problematic distinctions between the state and the economy.
Altogether competitiveness R&D policies created the possibility of a novel techno-science regime distinct from Cold War techno-science, although simultaneous and overlapping. This was more developed by President Bush who began moving things into the Department of Commerce and the Advanced Technology Program and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and moving it away from the arena of science. And then President Clinton began explicitly and openly promoting a civilian technology policy. He wanted to see science as he said in his position paper not as VanoverBush once said "the endless frontier," instead, Clinton proposed science - the endless resource. This is all moving along a pace and along comes the Republican revolution in 1994 and 1995 where we have a much more conservative body of legislators who pulled back from a civilian technology policy. They were against industrial policy and also against corporate welfare which most Democrats came to sort of embrace momentarily as well. But even as they did this, Newt Gingrich began appointing a national science policy study, which just came out. He said, "Give me a vision for the future and we will fund it." Gingrich started to argue that VanoverBush model of research, which was a simple model, a linear model becomes the mantra of this committee, that did not deal adequately with the complexities of present research was no longer appropriate for science policy for the United States or the new millenium. So even though you had conservative Republicans now on the House Science committee, which was the major player in the mid 90s, they were open to new sorts of things. And to instill a competitive legislation they had ideological problems with it but they were still in tuned to it because they were afraid that the United States would not be able to compete in global markets. And also because many of their major donors wanted to continue having the cost of their research socialized - the large corporations engaged in multinational and global competition. And so they sponsored a study by the Congressional Research Service, which reviewed the major reports which dealt with research in the past decade. And it starts in 1991 and it ends in 1997. Because I am running out of time and want to make a few more points, I am going to give you the quick and dirty on this. Basically, these reports, and they include the Academy of Complex which means the National Academy of Science, the National Research Council, the National Academy of Engineer, the AAAS and the National Institute of Medicine so it's sort of the mainstream spokesperson for science. These organizations, they move into a conception of science, and the quickest way to summarize it is from the Grants Report, which argues not for basic science as we once knew it, as many people in universities still think about it, but they pushed very strongly for a concept of basic technology. Basic technology means you can still be creative and interesting and so on and so forth, but you are much more closely coupled to use in the end. In fact, Branscombe argued that that is really what the mission agencies have always done and we just mislabeled it largely for ideological reasons with which I agree by the way. And because to preserve a division of labor inherent in the way we did science, divvied it up between the national labs, industry and universities. And so Branscombe pushed very heavily for this concept of basic technology, and very shortly thereafter Donald Stokes wrote a wonderful book called "Pasteur's Quadrant," which again said that the linear model of VanoverBush is too simple. It doesn't capture what we do. It's not appropriate for having a science more closely coupled to use and that builds on synthesis of existing work as well as discovery. And he argued that the big mistake that the physical sciences had made was not following the NIH model, which was science for use model. And he said that if we looked at it historically, what we saw was: there was Pasteur's quadrant, which was what he, called again, basic science for use; and there was Edison's quadrant, which was applied; and there was Boor's quadrant which is what we take to be basic research and nuclear physics and the like; and then there was a fourth quadrant where all of these interacted and sometimes technology provided direction for basic science and the like. And so he argued for forgetting this arbitrary division and instead moving toward basic science for use. The National Science Policy study, which just came out, doesn't really come down one way or another; it's a holding document. It says it's going to do more basic but it's going to be basic for use and so on and so forth. So the ideological impasses hasn't resolved but the policy thrust is all for this sort of work, confirming the sort of past 20 years of the policy drift.
What does this mean for research universities? I think what it means is that research universities will, especially public research universities, because we are so dependent on external funds at this point, will take over the functions of industrial laboratories like the IBM, and the Bell Labs and the like. And I think that's already happening. And university, industry, government partnerships will become the central vehicle for grants and contracts increasingly displacing the principal investigator, individual investigator system. But there's a caveat in this. All these reports are clear that not all universities will do this. The primary function of research universities is graduate education, not research money. And so there is a sort of notion that there will be a shrinkage or a fewer number at the top who are going to be doing this sort of industrial lab, university, government partnerships and indeed, many people are starting to argue that universities shouldn't hold intellectual property and patents anymore and instead should work in these teams. This will be industry led research with lots of room for us to do our work. It's not going to be like direct contract work, so it's not applied like we thought of but it's the high risk sort of research that corporations do not want to fund anymore and would like us to do. It will be tied into regional development partnerships in which several states play a key role, and it will be aimed to high-tech, mid-size and small corporations that service very large corporations through nexus of contract strategies and are often brought up by them. The large corporations that develop this are usually players in the global market. I think maybe the most profound implications of this sort of redefinition of science is that within the universities basic technology and basic science for use become the most highly valued research. This means that non-useful knowledge, knowledge that's attached to social welfare functions of the state, for example, education, or as not seen as productive like the arts and the humanities and some social sciences and perhaps some professional schools, are not important and ultimately that justifies a heavier teaching load in these areas. Since these fields now have loads comparable to the physical sciences and engineering because they too do basic research but if we don't have basic research, if we only have basic research for use or basic technology then all these other areas become much more peripheral. I think this vision of basic knowledge for use also delegitimizes universities as a place for social criticism and dissent. Certainly it privilegizes fields that are still heavily male dominated and it endorses a neoliberal conception of the economy. Finally it's very problematic for public research universities with large numbers of undergraduates because most students are not in these fields. Thank you!