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Five law faculty join first cohort of KU Public Scholars Group

Thursday, February 18, 2021

LAWRENCE — A diverse group of University of Kansas researchers from a broad range of scholarly backgrounds — and including many female and underrepresented voices — will receive training and work together to produce public scholarship that speaks to a broader audience.

The KU Public Scholars Group includes 24 faculty members from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the schools of Business, Education & Human Sciences, Journalism & Mass Communications, Law, Music and Professional Studies.

The initiative will be housed in the Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring, and co-led by Ani Kokobobo, associate professor and chair of Slavic and Eurasian languages & literatures, and Jennifer Raff, associate professor of anthropology.

The KU Public Scholars Group builds on several previous programs designed to encourage public scholarship at KU, furthered by a faculty network to provide peer mentoring and a sustained conversation focused on a series of workshops addressing a variety of formats for public engagement.

Chris Brown, vice provost for faculty development, articulated the importance of public scholarship in its many forms as “a way to share faculty expertise beyond our campus and our professional networks. It opens possibilities for our faculty to engage with the broader public and helps move us toward our vision to be an exceptional learning community that lifts each other and advances society.”

The initiative is made possible through partnership with and support from the Hall Center for the Humanities and the KU Center for Research. Richard Godbeer, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, a key sponsor for the initiative, noted the importance and timeliness of this initiative.

“The need for informed public conversation has never been greater, and the work we do as academics can enrich that dialogue in so many ways,” Godbeer said. “Humanities scholars have often taken the lead in public scholarship, and I’m delighted that the Hall Center for the Humanities can support this important new program.”

The Public Scholars will undergo training in accessible communication from The OpEd Project and from local, national and international experts in writing, public speaking and media. The participants will consider a range of questions, including how to transition from academic writing to a more accessible ways of communicating; how to pitch public scholarship to major media outlets; and how to respond to media attention.

KU Public Scholars will meet regularly throughout 2021 to assist each other in producing public scholarship and placing their work in high-visibility venues. The program also aims to create a group of faculty communicators who are equipped to mentor future cohorts of Public Scholars as well as KU students.

“Insights from KU scholarship and research have their greatest value when they are shared broadly,” said Simon Atkinson, vice chancellor for research. “Public scholars have a special role in connecting our work with a broader audience in Kansas and beyond. I’m excited about what we will hear from this accomplished, diverse group of scholars in the coming months.”