Tuesday, February 09, 2010

New sources of public ideas?

Privately, I've often whined that I wished universities would do more to engage in public debate on the important issues we face. Filled with lots of smart people and endowed with a significant public mandate (supported by public monies), I'd love to see more active debate and discussion initiated and sustained by our universities and the people within them.

A blanket statement, I know, and not entirely fair. There are many academics who work hard to disseminate their ideas to wider audiences (here's my recent favourite, on healthcare) and many schools provide lists of their professors willing to talk to the media on any range of subjects. Furthermore, it's a tough thing to change, as academics' most important incentives do not reward them for writing op-eds or being talking heads, and most news outlets don't devote much air-time to thorough discussion or opinion anyway (here and here being a couple of notable exceptions).

Still, I'm encouraged by the potential new media creates for greater dissemination of ideas from our universities. I've started a Twitter list of releases from as many of our Canadian university feeds as I can find. You can follow it here, and if you know of others that should be added, let me know.

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