Free Speech and Koch Money

Manufacturing a Campus Culture War

  • Thu 7 Dec 23

    16:00 - 17:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker


  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Department of Sociology

  • Event organiser

    Sociology, Department of

  • Contact details

    Dr Sarah Kunz

Join the Department of Sociology for an insightful webinar with Ralph Wilson and Dr Isaac Kamola.

Ralph Wilson and Dr Isaac Kamola will discuss their research into the influence of the ultra-libertarian Koch donor network at UK and US universities. In recent years, universities in the US and UK have been accused of being hostile to conservative speech, limiting viewpoint diversity, and sanctioning the shut-down of speakers. In their 2021 book Free Speech and Koch Money: Manufacturing a Campus Culture War Kamola and Wilson have ‘followed the money’ to argue that the moral panic around these supposed threats to speech have often been manufactured by political operatives pursuing the politicisation, discrediting, and ultimately privatization of public education. This talk discusses how think tanks and political actors within the United States, funded by the Koch donor network, have targeted higher education for partisan gains, and further examines how the Koch-funded Atlas Network has helped spread this strategy around the world, including the UK. 

Isaac Kamola is an Associate Professor of political science at Trinity College, Hartford, CT . His research examines the political economy of higher education, critical globalization studies, and African anticolonial theory. He is author of Free Speech and Koch Money: Manufacturing a Campus Culture War (with Ralph Wilson, 2021) and Making the World Global: US Universities and the Production of the Global Imaginary (2019). He is the creator of Faculty First Responders, a program that monitors right-wing attacks on academics and provides resources to help faculty members and administrators respond to manufactured outrage.

Ralph Wilson is the founder of the Corporate Genome Project. Ralph applies his background studying the mathematics and physics of complex systems to larger questions of corporate power and resistance. As a co-founder and former Research Director of UnKoch My Campus, he spent the last decade pioneering a resistance movement of students and faculty against corrupt donor influence. He is co-author of Free Speech and Koch Money from Pluto Press with Dr Isaac Kamola.

This webinar is part of an open seminar series, hosted by the Department of Sociology.