With increasingly large cuts to funding adversely impacting universities’ capacity for research, more and more schools are turning to corporations and industry-sponsored organizations for financial backing to augment budgets and fund research. Universities should be reliable sources of objective and innovative information and development, but, problematically, this conflict of interest compromises the integrity of science. An extensive review of research projects funded by “Big Oil” companies revealed insufficient academic control by universities, a lack of peer review and undue industry influence in choosing research proposals.
Not surprisingly, many oil and gas industry-funded academics are promoting shale gas development through the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Moreover, the industry has been providing funding for studies, professorships and capital improvements and is now looking to expand even further by undertaking fracking on an increasing number of college campuses. This can cause health and environmental risks for students and the surrounding community, and also calls into question the objectivity of ﬁndings from these institutions.