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P R E F A C E H OW PEOPLE FEEL about the promotion and proliferation of university-industry relations at public universities is contingent on many things. Such relations may be seen as the best alternative for pursuing the funds lost when state legislatures reduce appropriations for higher education, whether in absolute or relative terms. They can be understood to suborn the independence and mission of public higher education. They might be viewed as a necessary route to prepare the public and private sectors for regional economic growth in the face of an increasingly global, information-based economy. They are sometimes approached as administratively led patterns of university corporatization that undermine historical patterns of shared governance. They may serve to generate networks and revenue streams for future forms of basic and applied research. They may simply present an opportunity that university administrators and faculty embrace without thinking very much about the long-term consequences. They can be something opposition to which may damage one’s career prospects. They may be something whose time has come, but they may also be in decline. They may be all of these things. When faculty and administrators in the College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley requested proposals for funding departmentwide research in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, and then negotiated a deal with the newly formed Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute (NADI) in 1998, the university exploded in controversy. All of the positions laid out above, and more, entered into the smoldering conversations, P R E FA C E x emotional debates, and screaming matches that ensued. This explosion had everything to do with the institutional, political, and technoscientific history of UC Berkeley itself, intensified by the Bay Area’s history as the heart of the “Left Coast” and California’s deeply contested patterns of agricultural development . Coverage of the controversy, while most intense in the Bay Area, was reported in newspapers, professional journals, and national magazines across the country, intensifying the already fraught politics of biotechnology, higher education, and the science wars. The study presented here resulted from a two-year effort by the Academic Senate at Berkeley, including many faculty opposed to or with reservations about the agreement, to have the university finance an examination by independent researchers of the agreement’s history, negotiation, execution, and consequences. Significantly, our work and the conclusions we have reached have proved every bit as contingent as the perspectives people took on the university-industry agreement. One central event here is that the agricultural biotechnology bubble burst—for reasons having effectively nothing to do with the agreement—very soon after the agreement with Novartis was signed. Not only did this eventually lead to the restructuring of NADI into the Torrey Mesa Research Institute (itself subsequently disbanded), it led to Novartis’s spinning off its agricultural division to form Syngenta. Another key moment was the publication of a controversial article in Nature by an activist faculty member and one of his graduate students about their discovery of genetically modified materials in the DNA of indigenous Mexican landraces of maize. The apparently organized attacks on the article and on its untenured author, Ignacio Chapela, by proponents of agricultural biotechnology also generated a great deal of controversy. Professor Chapela became embroiled in an extraordinary series of events and an extended institutional battle that finally ended when he was granted tenure. In a world in which the materials of and discourses about the social and the natural, the scientific and the political, the democratic and bureaucratic, the public and the private, and the global and the local are increasingly hard to separate, things like university-industry relations make more and more sense while simultaneously becoming more and more controversial. Our account seeks to present events and arguments in a form sufficiently distilled that they make sense, while at the same time evaluating those events using perspectives oriented to the increasingly hybrid and contested character of contemporary social and political life. ...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781592135356
Related ISBN
9781592135349
MARC Record
OCLC
184903524
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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