In a recent New York Times op-ed, “Professors We Need You!” (2/15/14) Nicholas Kristof appealed to academics to join the public sphere and resist “self-‐ marginalization.” It is precisely this problem that JustPublics@365, and this e-book, are designed to address.
Scholars are knowledge producers. Today, how scholars produce that knowledge and what form it takes is changing. How and where we teach is being transformed as are the ways that we create knowledge. Old disciplinary boundaries are giving way to interdisciplinary and hybrid fields, at the same time that neoliberal economic models demand to know the ROI on higher learning.
Legacy models of academia demand that scholarship appear in bound volumes, printed by third party, for‐profit publishers for a small audience of other experts is challenged by new models of publishing. Digital technologies make publishing easier than ever. Simultaneously, a growing movement for open access to research (both data and publications) have called the question about the long-term viability of traditional publishing models that are draining the budgets of college and university libraries.
The rise of what some have called the “golden age of documentary” due to changing distribution models and the democratization of filmmaking raise interesting opportunities for bringing together scholarship, art and activism. Innovators in the world of documentary are wondering if there are ways to build in the idea of ‘impact’ to the development of film projects. And, documentary films offer incredible teaching and learning opportunities for students who have grown up saturated by multimedia environments.
New, alternative measures of scholarly output are possible now by using social media to track the reach of academic articles. Many faculty resist such measures as yet another instance of neoliberal regimes encroaching on faculty autonomy. Still, the deep human desire to have an impact on the world suggests that we want to know that our research, our activism, our lives made a difference somehow. Storytelling, rather than simply counting, may provide an alternative way to assess impact that takes into account the public good.
In the next 10 years, a new landscape of scholarly communication will emerge. The shape that takes, and whose interest that serves, will be up to each of us and our understanding of scholarly communication in the digital era for the public good. We hope that this e-book will provide some guidance.