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Foreign Influence and Academic Integrity

02 Jun 2021
By Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki
Chinese girl reading using a computer in the library. Source: LIUSHENGFILM/Shutterstock.

The risks of improper foreign influence on academic research have become a topic of growing concern in many parts of the world. Much of this concern has focused on efforts by China to restrict the freedom of expression of academics and students abroad as well as at home, or to obtain access to research findings.

Anxiety about the role of China is very well-founded, but this issue clearly goes further than any one country. Many national governments or overseas interest groups seek in one way or another to exert their influence on research being carried out beyond the boundaries of their own nation. Meanwhile, huge budgetary challenges and a rapidly changing educational environment are making universities increasingly vulnerable to multiple forms of outside influence. Drawing on recent examples from Asian Studies, this presentation will highlight some of those vulnerabilities, and pose the question: what can we do to strengthen academic integrity in an age of rising international conflicts, financial pressures on universities, and the international dissemination of fake news.

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is an Emeritus Professor in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and a past President of the Asian Studies Association of Australia. Her main research fields are modern East Asian history, focusing particularly on Japan and its region and addressing subjects including migration, frontiers, minority communities and grassroots social movements. From 2013-2018 she held an Australian Research Council Australian Laureate Fellowship. Her recent publications include On the Frontiers of History: Rethinking East Asian Borders (ANU Press, 2020) and Japan’s Living Politics: Grassroots Action and the Crises of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki was selected as a Fellow of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (FAIIA) 2020 for her distinguished contribution to understanding of East Asian transnational history, politics, and society. This is a recording of an event held by the ACT Branch of the AIIA on 8 April 2021.