As the Public Voices intern, I have been transcribing interviews featuring our wonderful PVF fellows over at Fordham, conducted during our third Public Voices convening back in May. In these interviews, the scholars reflect on the impact the Public Voices seminars have had on re-framing their academic work to be more accessible and relevant to the public, as well as on opening the door to having a passionate, compelling, and opinionated public voice. These interviews are some truly insightful and heartening feedback on our year of hard work, and shed a great deal of light on the concrete and substantive result our Public Voices Fellowship program yields, not only in improving the quality and diversity of public thought leadership, but also in generating interest and enthusiasm in using academic scholarship to provide solutions to real life problems.
Here are some excerpts from a few of them. Take a look:
Christinana Peppard (Assistant Professor in Systematic Theology):
“The Public Voices Fellowship was an explicit invitation to live into the self whom I had always imagined and understood myself to be, and it really has set the tone for considering my work, the context in which I do it, and thinking about who and how I want to become in this profession and for whose benefit. I think that this project has been an amazing invitation to cultivate my voice for the public good. It’s been extraordinary.”
Christina Greer (Assistant Professor in Political Science):
“The value of the program has been enormous in the sense that before I joined, I would give a few interviews here and there for some news outlets, and I never thought of my quote that appeared in the NY Times, the AM NY or the Metro, which is the local newspaper that people read on the subway, as anything of importance or significance—it’s just a quote that I gave about a local election, or a controller or a city council member. And now, as a member of the OpEd project, to really realize that it’s not just about writing longer pieces, which is definitely a goal and a very important aspect of the program, but to really think of myself as a thought leader. So when my students or miscellaneous people say ‘I saw your name in the Metro on my way to work, I really liked your quote,’ I realize now that my little words here or my five minutes on a news program really does contribute to helping someone understand the American political process, and that’s why I got my PhD in the first place.”
Dawn Lerman (Area Chair and Associate Professor of Marketing):
“The value has been absolutely enormous. One of the things it’s done for me is help me to translate what I do in an academic sense and make it real and useful to a nonacademic audience, and it’s inspired me to actually use my research, my interest, my expertise in the exact what that I just described, which is: for public good.”
Gregory Acevedo (Associate Professor in Graduate School of Social Service):
“[My last op-ed] was a piece that I had been dying to write for the longest time…But scholarly writing gets so bogged down in the evidence, the facts, telling the longer story. Working with Abby was amazing: trying to get all of this complexity and nuance into two pages, the number of rewrites. I found a whole completely different voice, one that was very distinct from the scholarly voice I had, and it was actually a voice that I felt I was more empowered in, in some ways, compared to my scholarly voice: to not have to extinguish or dampen down the passion, or what my opinion or position was, to just do that openly, with the evidence—a healthy respect for evidence—but not to have to play this game of ‘I’m neutral,’ ‘I’m objective,’ no, I’ll tell you what I think. I think that was liberating to me.”
Hope your souls have been invigorated by these genuine responses.
Signing off for the day,