The U-M community is invited to participate in a series of brownbag discussions regarding an issue of importance to the future of our profession: The role of the academic in public and political discourse. We will host three brownbag lunches in the winter 2014 term to begin a campus-wide dialog on the engagement of the academy in creating informed decision-making with the public and political realms. Topics of discussion will explore faculty attitudes and practices on the range of external engagement activities, including but not limited to: Congressional testimony, assistance to government agencies, board service, public presentations, media interviews, K-12 education, blogging, editorial writing, social media — all activities that lie outside the “standard” notions of scholarly pursuits. Each lunch will be different as we consider the risks, benefits, incentives and obstacles of such engagement. The dates are as follows:
Brownbag lunch #1
Friday, January 24, 2014, 12:00-1:30, Michigan League, Room D, 3rd floor
Brownbag lunch #2
Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 12:00-1:30, Johnson Rooms, Lurie Engineering Center, North Campus
Brownbag lunch #3
Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 12:00-1:30, Michigan League, Michigan Room, 2nd floor
This brownbag series of part of a larger research effort that includes a survey being conducted in the fall 2013 term that will inform our discussion and a national conference to be planned in 2015. At the heart of this activity is a recognition that the role of the University is changing. Some suggest that to remain relevant, universities (particularly public universities) and their faculty have a unique responsibility to become engaged within the policy discussions of challenges are relevant to society. However, this is not without its challenges. How exactly does an academic do this? How does one engage in a world in which knowledge is becoming democratized through social media and the proliferation of knowledge sources (both credible and biased)? In today’s world of public and political discourse, one cannot control the message and must develop new rules of engagement that allow for more nuanced and fluid delivery of content.
While these brownbag lunches are sponsored by the sustainability-related Erb Institute, Graham Institute, Energy Institute and Risk Science Center, the intent is to cover potential academic involvement across all disciplines and public policy debates.
Lunch will be provided. Your RSVP is requested. For more information, contact PublicEngagement@umich.edu