I am currently studying Honours at Flinders and have the intention of commencing a PhD in 2016. I have multiple options and am currently undecided about where I will go. Should Flinders decide to host Bjørn Lomborg, it would raise several issues, which could influence my decision.
Lomborg’s academic reputation is poor, and in academia, reputation is critical. Flinders will be, as a whole, associated with the “Lomborg” name – a name that is also on published work formally tied to scientific dishonesty. I am concerned that this connection could impact upon my future employability in an already competitive field. This is especially true as some of my research interests are environmentally related. Bold or contentious research can have a great deal of value, but only if conducted honestly and ethically. Unfortunately, regardless of the research focus proposed for Flinders, Lomborg’s highly public presence means there would be unavoidable associations with environmental issues and misconduct.
Academics have expressed similar concerns, and some have voiced doubts about remaining at Flinders should Lomborg be offered a position. As a student, this creates an additional worry, as access to quality staff is critically important for my own development.
Academic integrity is of paramount importance, and should be a fundamental value of any respectable University. Should Flinders decide to collaborate with Lomborg, the risk of tarnishing my own credibility is a strong disincentive to remain here for my PhD. Potential future PhD candidates I have spoken to, from multiple disciplines, feel the same.
Words by Jody Fisher
Jody was awarded a Max Clark Prize from the Faculty of Science and Engineering in 2014 and is a recent recipient of a Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources scholarship for Honours.