York University has reversed course and canceled plans for a controversial $60-million project in international law with a think tank supported by the BlackBerry founder Jim Balsillie, reports the Toronto Star. The decision came after the university’s law school faculty voted overwhelmingly against working with the think tank, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, in part because of concerns about academic freedom. The Toronto-based university said in February that after nearly a year of negotiations a deal was imminent over the joint program, which would have created 10 research chairs in international law and supported 20 Ph.D. students. However, the university said that while the program did not require the faculty’s approval, Monday’s vote meant practically that project could not move forward. For its part, the Centre for International Governance Innovation said it remained committed to pursuing its research goals with other institutions.
York isn’t the only university under fire for working with the group, which has been accused of meddling in the academic affairs of its university partners. The Canadian Association of University Teachers last month told York, Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier universities that it intends to pursue a rare censure motion against them over their collaborations with the organization.