I had a lot of fun guesting on the BBC Radio 4 show In Our Time, recently. I wrote up the experience for our students on the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme at Birmingham, but thought it actually sits comfortably here too 🙂
What academics mostly do is spin yarns. Sometimes these develop into technical tapestries, as hard to unpick as the punchline is (we hope) world-shaking. Much of the time, we are chipping away at the knowledge edifice, trying to make a difference. We receive no training in communicating research intelligibly outside the academy, yet making our research into stories that resonate as widely and powerfully as possible is as central to modern universities as it is to their faculty and students. Despite the rhetorics of ivory-towers and ivied quads, our world is no more (nor less) exclusive than any comparable trade. Ideas are our currency, and this means that we tend to speak to whoever will listen.
Some academics (micro-)blog, many of us teach and write books and papers, explain what we do to diverse audiences (including friends, or people at bus-stops…) and like everyone, we try to adapt our discourse…
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