Provost's Lecture Series on Academic Freedom: November 23 with Prof. Robert Proctor

November 02, 2021

You are invited to the final event in our Autumn 2021 Provost’s Lecture Series on Academic Freedom, on November 23, 2021, with Professor Robert Proctor.

For those unable to attend, this lecture will be recorded and archived at

About the Event:

Academic Freedom as a Double-Edged Sword: How Big Tobacco and Big Oil Corrupt Research on Campus 

Lecture by Robert Proctor, Professor of History, Stanford University

Organizer and Moderator:  Professor Margaret Schabas, Senior Advisor to the Provost, Academic Freedom

November 23, 2021
5:00 – 6:30 p.m., Sage East, University Centre (6331 Crescent Road)
RSVP by November 21 to (note that in-person capacity is limited)


Corporate polluters are very skilled at harnessing science for purposes of delay and distraction. This lecture will examine how Big Tobacco has used scientific research to obfuscate causal links between cigarettes and disease, and how similar methods are being used by Big Oil to obstruct prudent action on the climate emergency. While academic freedom is a core principle of university life, there is a danger if corporate polluters shape academic research and teaching, and use their support for science to create an impression of corporate responsibility. Given the temptations of corporate funding, we need to think more carefully about how to reconcile corporate influence with freedom (and quality) of inquiry.

View the recording of the lecture.

About Professor Proctor

Robert Proctor is Professor of the History of Science at Stanford University. He holds a B.S. in Biology from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard. Prior to his appointment at Stanford (in 2004) he was Distinguished Professor of History and Co-Director of the Program for Science, Medicine, and Technology in Culture at Pennsylvania State University. He has published eight books on a wide array of subjects, including science and values, agnotology, cancer causation, and the power of cigarette deception. His 2011 book, Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition, won the Rachel Carson Prize and the Prescrire Prize. In 2002, he was appointed a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2003 he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is currently writing several books, including one entitled “Darwin in the History of Life.” For the past twenty years, Professor Proctor has served as an expert witness in both Canadian and American courts, presenting evidence on tobacco industry misconduct and the multiple design defects in modern cigarettes.

Note: Physical distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be in place. Due to space capacity, registration is required.

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