Academic Engagement in Public and Political Discourse
Proceedings of the Michigan Meeting, May 2015
What is the role of the academic scholar within the discussions of the global challenges that are relevant to society, such as sustainability, health care, gun control, fiscal policy, and international affairs? How do scholars engage in a world in which knowledge is becoming democratized through social media and the proliferation of knowledge sources (both credible and biased) clouds public debate? What are the social, professional and institutional obstacles to such engagement? Should junior faculty do this? Should this vary by discipline, and by school? Should all academics do this? Does this redefine the role of the senior scholar?
To answer these questions and many more, the University of Michigan hosted a Michigan Meeting that involved over 40 speakers, including 4 University Presidents, and 225 registrants. This report summarizes that three-day meeting with a focus on four key themes. First, what is engagement and should we do it? Second, what are the ground rules for public and political engagement? Third, what are some models that have worked and what can we learn from them? Fourth and finally, what are the obstacles to engagement and how can they be overcome?