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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Education

Government and Teacher Support

More cartoons from Polyp

Many education authorities around the world support corporate sponsorship of educational materials. In Australia, for example, state government education departments worked together with business groups in Australia to produce materials. In Western Australia the Ministry of Education prepared curriculum materials sponsored by

Woodside Petroleum, BHP, BP, Shell, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Cal Asiatic for all secondary schools in the state. reference

The NSW Department of Education and Training had a web page of online resources with links to industry sponsored curriculum resources that included a link to the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) education website and endorsed its fact sheets, curriculum kits and resource books as “highly recommended” and “drawn from respected scientific sources”, even though the resources were written by public relations people and mainly cited industry sources.

Far from acting as gatekeepers against the incursion of corporate materials into schools, many teachers associations around the world encourage it. They have their professional conferences sponsored and underwritten by corporations and have corporate displays and booths at those conferences. Some have links to suppliers of corporate school materials on their home pages.


For example the UK Association of Science Education (ASE) includes industry-sponsored school science materials on its web pages including ExxonMobil’s Energy Chest website, electricity company, E.On’s Energy Nation website, and Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense website. It also partners with Unilever, the offshore oil and gas industry association UKOOA, Pfizer, GlazoSmithKline, the Copper Development Association, The British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and others to provide resources to science teachers.


Similarly the US National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) partners with and receives contributions from a variety of companies including Alcoa, the American Chemistry Council, the API, the American Plastics Council, Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Shell Oil and many others. It co-sponsors contests and grants with Toyota, Toshiba, Lysol and others.


The Association also runs annual summer workshops with Dow Chemical. The NSTA has partnered with oil company ConocoPhillips and with the the American Petroleum Institute (API) to produce teaching materials on oil and the API funded NSTA’s webpages on energy. The 10,000 to 14,000 teachers attending the NSTA’s annual convention are able to pick up “armloads of free corporate lesson plans” from the hundreds of corporate and trade association displays. It is said that when attending an NSTA conference “Bring two suitcases: one for your clothes and one for all the freebies!”


In their turn corporations, such as Exxon Mobil’s foundation, give millions “to key organizations that influence the way children learn about science”. According to Exxon Mobil’s president, Edward Ahnert, “NSTA is such a natural partner for us. No other organization has the ability to reach thousands of teachers…” Exxon Mobil even has a representative on the NSTA’s corporate advisory board.


When the producers of Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, offered 50,000 DVDs of it to teachers, the NSTA rejected the offer saying it would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially targeted supporters”.

Contributers' Updates and Examples

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