Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Colleges, Universities Soak Up Pentagon Dollars

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Colleges, Universities Soak Up Pentagon Dollars

Article excerpt

In 2002, an Association of American Universities report noted that nearly 350 colleges and universities were conducting research under funding by the Department of Defense, and that universities were receiving more than 60 percent of defense basic research funding.

"While we might intuitively accept the existence of a military-academic complex in America," wrote researcher Nick Turse, reviewing the association's report, "defining and understanding it has never been simple--both because of its ambiguous nature and its dual character. In actuality, the military-academic complex has two distinct arms. The first is the official, out-and-proud, but oft ignored, melding of the military and academia. Since 1802, when Thomas Jefferson signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy, America has been formally melding higher education and the art of warfare. The second is the militarized civilian university--since World War II and the emergence of the national security state, civilian educational institutions have increasingly become engaged in the pursuit of enhanced war-making abilities."

Presenting a little more history, Turse reported: "In 1958, the Department of Defense spent an already impressive $91 million in support of 'academic research.' By 1964, the sum had reached $258 million and by 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, $266 million. By 2003, however, any of these numbers, or even their $615 million total, was dwarfed by the Pentagon's prime contract awards to just two schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University that, together, raked in a combined total of $842,437,294."

Following a trend in defense spending, those numbers just get bigger. And it's not just the major research universities like Stanford and MIT, who have long maintained complex connections to the Pentagon.

Catholic colleges and universities are soaking up their share of Pentagon research dollars. The number, placed next to the entirety of defense spending, or even placed next to the dollar amounts going to the country's top research universities, is small.

According to a Department of Defense document reporting all defense-related grants larger than $25,000 awarded to colleges and universities in fiscal year 2005, Catholic colleges and universities received nearly $23.5 million dollars in Pentagon funding.

Included on the list were schools that also have programs with a strong peace and justice focus such as the University of Notre Dame and Villanova University (both received roughly $1 million).

Also on the list were Catholic institutions as diverse as The Catholic University of America, DePaul University, Creighton University and Canisius College.

There is a perception, fed largely by dominant conspiracy theories, science fiction novels, and, in fairness, by the nature of many known programs (remember the death-dealing butterfly?) that the world of defense research money is a shady underworld.

In fact, the money channeled to colleges and universities by the Pentagon covers a wide range of projects.

A spokesperson for DePaul University noted that the school "did not receive any grant funds directly from the actual Department of Defense," though some funds were received "indirectly" from the department. …

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