In recent years, we have seen an explosion of social media activity within the university. In some ways, this isn’t a surprise, with students leading the way in social media becoming a ubiquitous part of everyday life. It’s also not a surprise that this has led universities to increasingly see social media as an important part of their recruitment and engagement, leading to widespread use in communications and student affairs. What is perhaps more surprising is how faculty have taken to social media, both to talk among themselves and to engage with wider publics beyond the academy.
produced and how this is changing. The etymology of ‘public’ highlights the dynamic character of this adjective, from the late 14th century “open to general observation” through to the Latin root “of the people; of the state; done for the state,” and “common, general, of or belonging to the people at large; ordinary, vulgar”.
A significant perception shift about how academics and universities share their research on social media is urgently needed according to new analysis which calls for a more ‘subversive’ approach to engaging audiences online.
Social media has figured prominently in two literatures in recent years: the rise of authoritarian populism and the desirability of publicly engaged scholarship. These platforms offer incredible opportunities for more publicly engaged scholarship but they also make it more likely this scholarship will be politically contested by groups and individuals outside the academy.
From Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry by Caroline Lee pg 6. I thought this was a really interesting account of how the contemporary valorisation of debate goes hand-in-hand with a widespread sense of civic decline, with often negative results: Pure civic settings are in high demand in […]
From Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry by Caroline Lee pg 36-37. Her book illustrates how public engagement professionals have a vested interest in this narrative, offering to facilitate participation in order to address this civic withdrawal: The late 1980s and early 1990s were a time of […]
My notes on Allen, P. (2019). Political science, punditry, and the Corbyn problem. British Politics. There has been a widespread failure by political scientists to predict, explain or account for Jeremy Corbyn’s rise and the emergence of Corbynism as a political movement. What explains political science’s Corbyn problem? In this […]
My notes on Kerry Shephard, Kim Brown, Tess Guiney, Lynley Deaker & Gala Hesson (2018): Exploring the use of social media by community-engaged university people, Innovations in Education and Teaching International. This paper considers social media in terms of the third mission of the university, contextualising it in terms of the difficulties which […]
I’m (re)reading this important paper by Tressie McMillan Cottom in advance of a talk which Karen Lumsden and I are doing tomorrow on the dark side of (digital) public engagement. We were asked to suggest a reading for the session and this immediately occurred as the most suitable. It’s a insightful, careful […]
The ESRC offer a list of nine factors which help generate impact: establishing networks and relationships with research users acknowledging the expertise and active roles played by research users in making impact happen involving users at all stages of the research, including working with user stakeholder and participatory groups flexible […]
One of the clear themes which emerged for me when reading Merchants of Doubt, a detailed exploration of corporate propaganda by historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, concerns the politics of public engagement. What might in other circumstances seem like anodyne issues confined to the university, who talks about science […]
In recent months, I’ve become preoccupied by how we make sense of the experiences of academics being harassed or trolled when using social media. My initial interest in this was in my capacity as a trainer and consultant. One of my roles is to encourage, train and support academics in […]
Many researchers are excited about the potential social media offers for making an impact with their work. However 500 million tweets per day, 3 million blog posts per day and over a billion websites poses an obvious challenge: how can you ensure you are heard above the din? How can […]
Why do psychologists and economists enjoy more prominence in the public sphere than sociologists? I’ve been thinking a lot in the last couple of days about what seems to me to be a failure of sociology to value or encourage media engagement by sociologists. It should go without saying that these […]
There’s a really important piece in the LSE Impact Blog by Philip Moriarty describing his experiences using social media for public engagement. In many ways he has been the embodiment of the engaged academic, driven by a sense of responsibility to communicate scientific knowledge and an enthusiasm for engaging with […]
What does it mean to speak and listen on social media? It’s a question which might seem to invite a platitudinous response but it’s one which increasingly concerns me. In the last couple of years, I’ve found myself increasingly sceptical that a platform like Twitter facilitates meaningful debate given the […]
In her wonderful Lower Ed, Tressie Cottom describes how her public profile led to her being in contact with someone who was enormously relevant to her ongoing research. From pg 103: Aaron found me through my public writing and blogging and social media and decided that speaking to me might […]
Social media didn’t create the ambition to rethink scholarly communication, it gave us the tools to do it effectively
When we talk about the possibilities which digital media offer for rethinking scholarly communication, it’s easy to slip into the trap of thinking this ambition is a new one. We counterpoise the ‘new’ and the ‘old’, the innovative and the traditional, the digital and the analogue. In doing so, we obscure past […]
In recent weeks I’ve become fascinated by what I’ve thought of as the poetics of impact and engagement. What linguistic techniques can we identify in how ‘impact’ and ‘engagement’ are written about? What work do they do in terms of foregrounding and backgrounding the issues entailed by this paradigm shift […]
In the last couple of years, prominent commentators have increasingly claimed there is a crisis of free speech in higher education. Well meaning participants in reasoned debate are apparently unable to move without being accosted by left-wing activists keen to shut them down or move them on. As I wrote a couple […]