Thursday, June 21, 2012

Academia-policy divide

Josh Busby has a great post at Duck of Minerva about the academia/policy divide. This is well-trodden ground but well-worth periodic revisiting. He had just attended a workshop intended to bridge the gap between the two.

I'm a strong proponent of academic engagement with the policy world and the media. Blogging and tweeting is part of that engagement. I understand all the concerns he also lays out, such as time drain and oversimplification. Untenured faculty need to be particularly mindful of these. Nonetheless, I've found that writing blog posts, crafting op-eds, giving periodic talks in DC and/or talking to reporters is useful because it forces me to be more concise and clear. Beyond that is the satisfaction that to some small degree my own work becomes known and thought about outside academia.

Being too declarative is problematic, but on the other hand you don't want to say "on the other hand" so many times that you end up with ten hands. If you wrote an article or a book on a topic of great interest to you, then boil it down into an op-ed and see what happens. Yes, it will take you some time, but even if it's never published--or just published as a blog post, perhaps--it will require you to think about your core argument, stripped away of the fluff. And that's good for your research.


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