Weapons companies and private defence interests have infiltrated the education system. Wage Peace intends to kick them out.
As far back as 2016, Defence had identified “attracting and training the future defence workforce” as a “major challenge” to the continued growth of the industry. The 2016 Defence White Paper states:
“A concerted program of recruitment, training, and targeted retention will be required to support this growth”.
Since then, there has been consistent growth in the number of “industry partnerships” being formed between schools and weapons corporations, or bodies funded wholly or partly by weapons corporations. These partnerships serve as the delivery vehicle for recruitment exercises dressed up as science programs.
How does STEM-washing work?
Normalising Militarism – Competitions, edutainment and engaging activities normalise weapons manufacture, military concepts and ideas. Even pre-school children are targeted. Lockheed Martin’s partnership with the ‘STEM Punk’ program forms a cute sounding name to entice young people into a future designing weapons. “I wanted to be a teacher, but now I’m going to join the military”, (paraphrase) said one 12 year old following a fun drone program.
Laundering Reputations – Partnerships are built with schools and organisations that garner community respect. Rotary is the major partner of The National Youth Science Forum. But the major funding partner is Lockheed Martin. The event exposes students to various career pathways in science. Rotary never mentions Lockheed Martin’s dominant influence in the program or as the world’s number one weapons manufacturer or its significant role in producing nuclear weapons and stoking political violence.
Erasing Ethics – There is a failure to address or even mention the ethics of weapons or warfare. There might be the pretence of talking about the ethics of AI, but no discussion about the ethics of “a future [in which] employees have eliminated the need for human involvement in the ‘kill chain’ by creating autonomous robotic devices to make those decisions”. #Ethics
Repurposing Institutions – The curriculum material of STEM itself is repurposed for the needs of the weapons industry. STEM comes to stand for the ‘future’ of education. The policy focus and funding of weapons-STEM comes at the expense of the natural sciences, energy and humanities-arts. Education policy preferences STEM over everything else. The infiltration is evidenced in the “Workforce Strategic Vision” which is underpinned by STEM and subtitled “Moving towards a high-tech future for Defence”. #StateCapture
Fake Academia – ‘Research and educational partnerships’ are formed with universities. Australia has several private weapons development labs situated in universities. The Boeing Institute at UQ, Lockheed’s Stellr Lab, or the Defence and Security research programs at Deakin University with companies like Lockheed Martin, Hanwha and General Dynamics. #FauxAcademy
All this so the corporations can keep #MakingAKilling.
#DemilitariseSTEM #SkillingNotKilling #EarthcareNotWarfare
Campaign Goals and Logic
1. To end the defence industry’s influence over our education system or the way that education is delivered by prohibiting weapons companies from forming relationships with schools.
2. To introduce a requirement for schools to disclose all relationships with private corporations or “industry partnerships” on their website.
3. Where education about technology is being delivered, to reintroduce and require ethical discussions on the applications of that technology to be included in any educational program, material, or package. Whether said materials etc. have been created internally by the school or by an external provider.
This can be achieved via policy initiative by state and territory Departments of Education. Wage Peace intends to simultaneously create pressure on weapons companies to end their relationships with schools and school programs, and appeal to the various Education Departments to amend the relevant policies. We believe this will require a ground swell of grassroots support. To achieve this, we believe respectful education around the issue and the threats it poses will need to be delivered to educators, parents, students, and the public generally.
Note: The ACT already prohibits schools from forming commercial arrangements with several types of companies, including those who manufacture armaments. However, the ACT is host to Questacon whose main sponsor is the Australian Defence Force, and has sponsorship arrangements with multiple multinational weapons companies. Almost all ACT school children will visit Questacon at least once, as will a great number from NSW and VIC. Some other states, including NSW, already prohibit schools from forming commercial relationships with companies that make or sell tobacco, alcohol, or gambling products. Thus, a precedent has already been established that certain industries have #NoPlaceInSchools.
For more information see the Wage Peace briefing report HERE
- Draw on Wage Peace’s resources and support to organise actions to name and shame your local arms dealers – get in touch here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write to your local school to ask if they are utilising any programs or educational material produced or promoted by defence corporations. If they are, tell us about it so we can add it to our growing database
- Write to your state MP and/or your state’s Minister for Education demanding a prohibition on schools forming commercial relationships with defence companies in Department policy.
- Platform positive alternatives, such as programs centered around renewable energy technologies, sustainable agriculture, ecological sciences, health and biomedical fields, and other life affirming applications of STEM skills. Tell us about your local hero stories so we can platform them too!
- Sign up to our mailing list to receive campaign updates, news, and calls to action
However and wherever you can,
And remember you are loved.