June 23rd, 2014
There’s no such thing as the ivory tower. Today, colleges and universities are not isolated enclaves, and they probably never were. Public engagement is, and always has been, an essential part of the mission of higher education. The trouble is: Lots of people inside and outside of academe just don’t believe that.
Here are three points to set the stakes:
- First, academics of all sorts are already deeply engaged with the public in many different ways.
- Second, many universities explicitly recognize public engagement as a category that may count toward hiring, tenure, or promotion.
- Third, in the United States and in academe itself, the widespread perception is that most faculty members do not engage with the public—either because they don’t want to or because they know they won’t be rewarded for it.