Guest post by Public Voices Fellow, Charlotte Canning, the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professor in Drama at the University of Texas at Austin, who attended a recent public seminar in NYC
What I found really inspiring and exciting was that there were only three academics in the room (or so). The majority of folks were not in higher education so their reasons for being there, their experiences, and their approaches were so diverse. Listening to a woman from Mexico talk about helping Latin American women start home businesses (with funding from the World Bank and the Gates Foundation) or the woman from California who works on prison reform and got a law passed in that state to prevent shackling incarcerated pregnant women or the woman from the UN who works on women and health helped me understand my own work/expertise differently than I did when I was in a room full of UT colleagues. Discussing our work across the worlds of activism, policy, not-for-profits, the academy, business, and NGOs sharpened our thoughts and approaches, as well as giving us a sense of how we read outside of our worlds.