September 1, 2016 | New Op-Ed by BTtoP Director Don Harward: "The Koch Brothers' Right-Wing Trojan Horse in Higher Education: Institutes for 'Well-Being'"

BTtoP Director Don Harward's new opinion essay, published in Truthout, acts as a response to the Koch brothers’ recent efforts to “capture” the meaning of well-being—and to use that concept as a Trojan Horse for propagandizing their own ideology within higher education.


"As a former college president and current director of a higher education nonprofit, I have long been interested in the issue of well-being on college campuses, so I was alarmed to learn from Jane Mayer's New Yorker article "New Koch" that the Koch brothers and their conservative network are funding a long-term effort to promote the right-wing fundamentalist free-market ideology by presenting it "as an apolitical and altruistic reform movement to enhance the quality of life -- as a movement for well-being." And I was dismayed to learn that the Koch brothers intend to implement that strategy with a particular strain of "well-being institutes," spreading them to multiple universities. This strategy, playing on the proclivity of institutions of higher education to accept gifts, uses its seemingly noble and apolitical movement in pursuit of well-being as the benign cover -- the Trojan Horse -- hiding its underlying message that a "free market" and reduction of government involvement will "forge a path to happiness.

Institutions of higher education are, at their essential level, about the pursuit of knowledge, evidence, truth, justice and well-being. Colleges and universities are unique in upholding these qualities and must do so with integrity. Doing so should reveal (contrary to what the Kochs and their network may assume) that complex constructs, such as these, rest on neither market values, nor individual self-interest. Rather, constructs such as justice and well-being are rooted in relational experience and the values of open exploration and the common good."

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