The tensions and conundrums of public scholarship

Scholars are often encouraged to be public intellectuals – to ‘go online’ and engage with diverse audiences. Yet, scholars’ online activities appear to be rife with tensions, dilemmas, and conundrums. In a presentation that I gave last week at AERA, I discuss some tensions and challenges scholars face when engaging networked publics and highlight some uncomfortable realities of being a public scholar. Evangelizing public and networked scholarship without acknowledging the existence of tensions is detrimental to the field and misleading to the scholars who may be considering greater public engagement- becoming more networked, more public, and more “digital.” Individual scholars and institutions need to evaluate the purposes and functions of scholarship and take part in devising systems that reflect and safeguard the values of scholarly inquiry.


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  1. Susan Farber

    This is indeed a topic needing definition or clarity. Who is the audience? What value can we ascribe to academic voices shared digitally as there are more options? Can academics consider inserting a pre-amble to their posts, to define the purpose and audience for their ideas? What degree of freedom of expression can academics anticipate?
    Most importantly — institutions of higher education have a responsibility to define where is the line between what is valued or reviewed for academic position security — so it is clear for academics who seek to use digital media to share their ideas.
    Thanks for sharing and bringing this conversation to the fore!

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