At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the arrest of a prominent researcher for concealing China ties magnifies tensions around research partnerships, particularly those with China (following on the heels of scrutiny over MIT’s partnerships and contracts with Saudi Arabia). Students at Columbia University pass a referendum calling for institutional divestment from companies that “profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s acts toward Palestinians,” reflecting one of the most divisive debates across college and university campuses in the United States, and generating this response from Columbia’s Office of the President.
Geopolitical tensions within the higher education sector are far from new, but boundary-spanning financial and intellectual ties have become increasingly nuanced. What happens when academic programs or partnerships are viewed as contrary to the values of the higher education community? Using the case examples as a jumping off point, we will discuss concerns that arise from cross-border activities or partnerships.