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Reimagining the Public Intellectual in Education

Making Scholarship Matter


Edited By Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin and Cynthia Reyes

While the term «public intellectual» has been used to describe scholars who seek to share their re-search with the public, little work has been done to examine the role of a public intellectual in the field of education. This book builds upon the notion of the public intellectual in a way that makes the term more accessible, using it to refer to education scholars who seek to share their research outside of academia. Media coverage of educational issues is rife with self-appointed experts on education who have claimed space in public discussions to define educational problems and dominate public dialogues on education. But where are the education researchers in these academic dialogues? This book addresses their absence, sharing the stories of scholars who are seeking to enter public dialogues and reclaim space for reasoned dialogue on education. The stories of public scholars highlighted here acknowledge that the policymaking arena is teeming with value conflicts that can lead to dismissing or ignoring research if it does not fit with political agendas.
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Chapter Six: The Naked Seminar: Blogging as Public Education Outside the Classroom


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The Naked Seminar

Blogging as Public Education Outside the Classroom


Academics are supposed to be public intellectuals, Russell Jacoby tells us—or rather complains that professors are among the “anonymous souls, who may be competent, and more than competent, but who do not enrich public life.”1 More than a half-century after the expansion of both higher education institutions in the United States and the doctorally educated professoriate, the role of academics in public debate is precarious. There has never been a golden age of academic influence in the United States, but there is an irony in the relative failure of professors to engage the general public over the last third of a century, when the proportion of young adults with college degrees has been higher than at any previous point in American history. We reach students in classes, but do we reach graduates or those who never enroll in college?

The Internet has made such outreach much easier, providing a number of tools for faculty to write about ideas that are important to them. Among the most prominent are static web resources, podcasting, video sites (such as YouTube channels), and blogs. Since the mid-1990s, more academics have created websites, not only relying on institutional resources available to them but also reserving domain names for use as private venues for their writing and the distribution of ideas. Groups of academics have created...

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