Crowdfunding University Research: Keeping Politics out of Science

When Susan Nagel — a professor and researcher at the University of Missouri — sought funding for a project on the environmental and public-health impacts of hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking,’ as it is commonly known), she ran into some not-so-unexpected opposition: politics.

“EPA announced three years ago that they would be funding research about the safety of fracking,” Nagel told Salon. “However, before they began accepting applications, that program was canceled.”

So she decided to take a slightly unorthodox route to funding. Nagel created a campaign on a scientific research crowdfunding platform, looking to raise $25,000 to get her project off the ground. At last count, she has raised more than 75% of that amount with over a week remaining.

Nagel’s campaign is part of a greater trend in the research community. The majority of traditional funding grants tend to be in a select few research areas, and are generally given to studies that are the most politically popular. Nagel’s study ran afoul of Republican politicians who have been taking aim at research that is critical of fracking, making her bid for funding a political bust.

The trend is a prime example of the democratizing influence of crowdfunding, allowing the crowd to promote research that they want to see conducted, regardless of the political ramifications. By partially isolating the allocation of funding from the political system, crowdfunding has the potential to drastically alter the way that scientific research is conducted in this country, and all for the better.

Find out more about how white-label crowdfunding solutions from Launcht could help your college or university host a platform for student and faculty projects and research.

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