Focus on the origins of US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney

Abstract: This article considers whether a threat is posed to academic independence in corporate universities by the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney. The USSC rapidly worked its way into Australia’s oldest university, building a unique governance structure in which a private business lobby vets senior academics and controls the Centre’s finances. Despite a secret management agreement, the aims, control mechanisms and some of the outcomes of this project are fairly plain. The Centre has undermined academic independence, dressed up the business lobby’s agenda as ‘normal’ academic activity, and has raised broader questions about the capacity of the corporate university to manage conflicts of interest.

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