How Corporate-Sponsored Academia Can Really Pay

This post is a part of our Monetization of Academia informative web series, and is available online only. To read the full article “The Monetization of Academia” as it appears in this month’s issue, visit Atlanta Tribune online for sales and subscription information.

By Courtney Boyd, Editorial Intern

For decades, drug companies, car companies and other manufacturers have lent financial support to universities. Usually, the money is used to fund research which, more often than not, finds favorable results for the providing company. Recently, however, companies have sidestepped the middle men-research laboratories-and handed the figurative check directly to researchers, or university students.

In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that big-name businesses Levi Straus & Co., Mattel Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. “are sponsoring college classes and graduate-level research to get help with their online marketing from the young and hyperconnected.”

Sprint, in particular, stands out with its sponsorship of a social media class at Boston’s Emerson College. In exchange for free social networking, online marketing and search engine optimization, Sprint supplied 10 smartphones with unlimited wireless access to the class. Good deal, right?

However, students are not only given an escape from the run-of-the-mill, you-lecture-and-I-listen-style academic course, they are able to gain real work experience in the endeavor. They develop a real, working knowledge of how certain theoretic principles yield tangible results. By building a social media campaign and incorporating nearly every platform available, they added valuable skills to their résumés.

As corporate sponsorships expand to include academia (as well as athletics), students are in the front running for reaping benefits.

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