Academia getting serious about talking to the rest of us?

At Duke, I wrote a column shredding academic-ese. Maybe I was foreshadowing my USA TODAY career, urging academics to write more concisely. (A poli sci professor read my column and told his class he would shorten the length requirement on their upcoming papers, which might be the most influence I’ve ever had with anything I’ve written.)

In an era in which we take ignorant voices seriously, academics HAVE to bridge the gap. Now more than ever. They need to engage with the public in a way we can understand. A handful of people (think Neil deGrasse Tyson, picking up Carl Sagan’s quest to share astronomy with the masses) get it. Most don’t.

Some Australians apparently agreed with the importance of bridging that gap, and they launched a site called The Conversation in 2011. That site has expanded to the USA, and a Duke scientist has co-written a manifesto of sorts for them: Here’s why academics should write for the public.

Good luck. And we should keep an eye on them.


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