Partnerships between universities and arms manufacturers raise thorny ethical questions

Higher education Research institutes Research management Research economic aspects Defence Weapons trade Military equipment Australia

The Australian government is undertaking its biggest defence build-up since the second world war. Research partnerships between Australian universities and defence industries raise major ethical concerns, and may be at odds with the principles of academic freedom.

In its 2016 Defence White Paper, the Australian government committed to an 81% increase in the Defence budget over a decade. The paper also outlined plans to recruit 4400 new Australian Defence Force employees.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also recently announced a $3.8 billion investment in the arms manufacturing industry. The hope is Australia will become one of the world’s top 10 weapons exporters.

The government has turned to higher education to help fulfil these goals. It needs graduates with the skills to grow and sustain the military and weapons industry, and academic research that contributes to the development of military technologies.

Intensifying ties between universities, the Department of Defence and weapons manufacturers make sense within the government’s wider militarisation efforts. But they may not be ethically justifiable.

Read the full article on The Conversation.

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