I served as the director of the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University from 2012 to 2017. I had a unique vantage point to watch the birth of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.
The new school came in the wake of the creation of “freedom” centers largely funded by the Charles Koch Foundation: The Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona and the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty and the Center for Political Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, the latter nested within our school in the form of a certificate program and contributing faculty.
I welcomed the new perspectives the center and faculty brought to our curriculum. I felt then as I do now: we are strengthened by all forms of diversity.
Welcoming Koch gifts undoubtedly came with risks, then, as it does now. The Charles Koch Foundation has infused existing college curriculum with libertarian ideology by supporting strategic hires of new professors in existing departments in universities and colleges across the country.
More recently, it has circumvented history, philosophy, economics, and political science departments altogether by financing the creation of new schools and departments that contain only professors that share their conservative views. These are troubling trends.