Syracuse University: A player in the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex?

Many in the Syracuse community, including peace and social justice activists, have been encouraged by SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor's efforts to increase the university's engagement with and accountability to society. At the same time, over the past several years, people who know Syracuse University have noticed a growing presence on campus of programs connected to the US military. These include (aside from the long-standing ROTC program) the Defense Comptrollership Program (DCP) in the School of Management; the Military Motion Media Program (MMMP) and the Military Photojournalism Program (MPP) in the Newhouse School; the National Security Studies Program (NSS) in the Maxwell School; and the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) in the Maxwell and Law Schools.

Like most universities, a basic ambiguity lies at the heart of SU's identity as an institution of "higher learning": supporting elite power but also striving to keep open a democratic space for the critique of that power. While we agree that any university must be a place where all ideas can be heard - including military ones - we feel the growth of military-oriented programs at SU raises important questions we as a community need to engage. What is the appropriate role of the University relating to the military? What is at risk when that relationship becomes increasingly cozy? Does the growth of military-oriented programs on campus put intellectual diversity at risk? Does Department of Defense or Homeland Security funding skew university research goals, methods and results?

This special section of the Peace Newsletter only begins to address these questions. We invited contributions from SU faculty with informed views about the university-military relationship. In the future, we hope to deepen the conversation by soliciting the views of students, staff and community people. Most importantly, we want this conversation to stimulate others to start filling the astonishingly large holes in our knowledge about the Syracuse University/military connection. Further analyses and investigations, and the dialogue they generate, are crucial to our community, to democracy, and to the struggle for a more peaceful and just society.

Below are a few resources to contextualize this issue in hopes readers will pursue it further.

On militarization at Syracuse University:

"Syracuse University Enlists in the Global War on Terror" by Linda Ford and Ira Glunts. (www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm ?itemID=13440&sectionID=40).

On the militarization of US universities:

Giroux, Henry A. The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press, 2007.
Fiatpax (www.fiatpax.net) A resource on science, technology, militarism and universities.

On militarization of US society:

Bacevich, Andrew. The New American Militarism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Lutz, Catherine. Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001.

On the global context of militarization:

Enloe, Cynthia. Globalization and Militarism: Feminists Make the Link. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007.

-John Burdick and Diane Swords guest editors for this special section