Academics can change the world – if they stop talking only to their peers

Savo Heleta, The Conversation, Mar 13, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I have never understood the desire to speak only amongst one's colleagues, but perhaps this is more my journalistic self speaking than my scientific self. This article makes what is to me the very good point that if academics want to have any impact on the world, they have to start talking to other people. And, I would add, they have to start listening to other people (and maybe even giving them credit for their work). Stating in the way of this outcome are several barriers, according to the article:

  • they argue that it's not their job to write for the public, and that it amounts to abandoning their intellectual mission
  • their institution and work environment provides no incentives to talk with the public
  • they are actually unable to write well enough to be understood by their public readers

But it's time academics got out a bit, experienced the real world, dealt with people and not constructs, and opened their writing - and their thoughts - to the rest of us to scrutinize. Via David Wiley.

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