Transforming Academia: From Silo to Vehicle for Social Change

By Stephan Manning.

There has been a lot of talk about the alienating nature of academic work. Nick Kristof argues in his recent New York Times article that academic research is increasingly irrelevant for public debates and that public intellectuals have become a dying species. Academics are increasingly driven by the pressure to publish rather than by curiosity and the need to better understand the world we live in, as Suhaib Riaz points out in his recent blog. In a nutshell, academia has become a silo in which peer recognition counts the most, whereas making a broader impact is seen as a distraction. Given the enormity of unsolved social and environmental problems facing our planet, we need to re-embed academia into society and turn it into a vehicle for social change. But how?

Continue reading

Reflections on the Boston Marathon tragic events

Introduction by Marc Lavine.

Like all people of conscience, we are deeply saddened by the Boston marathon bombings. As educators and Bostonians, these events affected us deeply and personally. One of our former students was among the dead, as was a child from the neighborhood where our campus is located. One of Boston’s many international students perished as did a committed campus police officer. Many nursing students from our school were among the first responders. Several of us know people who were injured or have personal connections to the marathon. Continue reading