Liberals at the American Studies convention say they need to get more involved in public debates

Historians in the News

Nicholas Bromell started off his presentation at the American Studies Association meeting on Friday by asking a packed room of participants if they knew the names of any conservative think tanks that are powerful in Washington. Groups like the Heritage Foundation were quickly named by the professors. Bromell, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, then asked if they could name any liberal groups, and the audience was stumped.

Of course there are such organizations, but the audience reaction (and this was not an audience of Heritage fans) illustrated his point. “Conservatives have been very effective at bringing professors and scholars together to talk to their policy people,” he said. Liberals less so.

Amy Kaplan, an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the session was designed to encourage more professors on the left to reach out to Washington and to think about the policy implications of their work. It’s not just getting the attention of policy makers, she said, but a question of “how we can listen” so as to shape ideas that can be executed.

There was general agreement at the session that American studies scholars needed to do more to engage with the public. But at other sessions, professors spoke with some concern about the way some members of the public are trying to hinder their work....
Read entire article at Inside Higher Ed

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