Steve September 12, 2020
how-charles-koch-is-buying-credibility-with-academic-investments
Koch message projected on the side of the business school at Utah State University

Read time: 7 mins

In 1996, Richard Fink, an executive at Koch Industries and a top advisor to Charles Koch, outlined a three-tiered strategy for getting the petrochemical industrialist’s free-market ideas out into the world: through academia, think tanks, and activists’ organizations. Fink described the first tier of this “structure of social change” strategy as “investment in intellectual raw materials” and the “exploration and production of abstract concepts and theories” that academia would develop. 

Nearly two and a half decades later, Koch influence in the academic sphere is far ranging. Koch money funds individual courses, professorships, fellowships, and even energy research and policy programs, like the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. These centers represent significant investments in the “intellectual raw materials” of free-market advocacy.

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