Public Scholars Group

We are delighted to announce an exciting new partnership between the Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring, The KU Center for Research, and the Hall Center for the Humanities: the Public Scholars Group. This program provides a valuable professional development opportunity for faculty and aims to make more visible beyond academia the relevance and significance of our research in today’s world.

This group will encourage and equip academics to use public scholarship platforms for accessible yet research-based communication that enrich public discourse. Our objective, made only more urgent by the global pandemic and current racial tensions, is to foster constructive, informed dialogue with the broader public. It is critical that we build bridges between our essential but often deeply specialized research and larger communities that do not always have access to or the inclination to read specialized publications. The Public Scholars Group is bringing together a diverse group of 25 faculty to create a forum that provides training and support for sustainable, public writing and other forms of communication by KU researchers.

The project will launch by hiring the nationally respected Op-Ed project, which provides training for aspiring public scholars (with an emphasis on promoting diverse voices), to lead a series of training sessions. It will continue that work with experts on campus sharing their skills in areas such as public speaking, dealing with media appearances, writing and selling book proposals for trade publishers, and responding to online harassment. Participants will meet bi-weekly during the pilot year, sometimes as a larger group to engage with a guest speaker, and at other times in smaller groups to workshop and pitch op-ed pieces. All participants have committed to writing and pitching 3-4 op-eds (or equivalent public scholarly activities such as a media appearances or podcasts) throughout the course of the year. Participants will help each other to place public writings in publications or on media platforms. Additionally, each member of the group will mentor a colleague and so expand the group’s footprint.

Ani Kokobobo (Associate Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Languages) and Jennifer Raff (Associate Professor of Anthropology) are coordinating the group’s activities. Both have done extensive public writing over the years, their work appearing in high-profile outlets such as The Washington Post, The Conversation, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, Forbes, and The Guardian.