An Australian university blockchain hub has been linked to a right-wing think-tank, causing controversy among uni staff members.
The RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub’s association with influential right-wing think-tank The Institute of Public Affairs has been roundly criticised in a 1200-word news feature in Guardian Australia by other members of staff.
The hub received $6 million from the Melbourne based RMIT University and claims to be the “world’s first” research centre on the social science of blockchain.
However one third of the university’s blockchain research staff, including co-directors Jason Potts and Christopher Berg, are either current or former fellows of the IPA, a sometimes controversial think tank that advocates libertarian free market economic policies.
The story quoted an anonymous RMIT staff member as saying the link to the IPA was a matter of “deep concern for an academic community that values independence and transparency” in the midst of “a severe austerity drive, including retrenchments.”
“Given the generous funding involved in blockchain research, the university must satisfy itself that the research is agenda-free and funds are appropriately spent.”
Another staff member said there was limited knowledge in the uni about the activities of the hub, its funding and links to the IPA.