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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 Ten: Conversations That Matter: Community-Based Practice In Support of the Public Good


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Conversations That Matter

Community-Based Practice in Support of the Public Good



There are conversations that matter for public intellectuals. For us, as educators who prepare teachers, those conversations advance equitable and appropriate learning opportunities for youth as they prepare for meaningful lifelong journeys. Our story offers an example of two public intellectuals who engage in community-based research and teaching for the public good. To put this in a slightly different way, as public intellectuals, we remain committed to (re)claiming the dialogue in education in a way that supports consequential conversations around practice and policy, particularly those conversations informed by the needs of the local community.

Our local United Way has identified education (to achieve potential), income (to promote financial stability), and health (to promote well-being) as three “Building Blocks for a Good Quality of Life” following a series of community conversations. Since impact is central to the United Way’s mission of “improving people’s lives…by pursuing real social change through collective community strategies” (United Way of Chittenden County, n.d.), it comes as no surprise that these community-determined goals are used when making funding decisions. Impact is also salient when we think about the mission of the University of Vermont (UVM), where we work. However, faculty impact is traditionally assessed based on how publications are received by the academy rather than on the impact faculty ← 117...

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