Extended deadline: Call for Papers generated by social media responses to an http://www.artsandhumanities.org blog – ‘The Humanities, The Public Intellectual and Human Flourishing’:
Call for Contributions – case studies, exemplary essays – on Humanities’ disciplines ‘going public’
*For an international Special Issue in Vol. 15, 2016.
*Send your proposals for essays and illuminative case studies, in reply to the challenge below, to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st Aug 2015.
Something needs to be done – urgently. We are agreed – right? But what? (Robert Garland, AHHE v 11.3,)
Robert Garland in ‘The Humanities Plain and Simple’ declared: ‘Something needs to be done – urgently. We are agreed – right? But what?’ His answer included: ‘If more of us could commit to having a public, extra-curricular role, we might even stare down the specter of humanistic decline’.
The Arts and Humanities HE blogpost ‘The Humanities, The Public Intellectual and Human Flourishing’ elicited a response (see below) from Alix Green which we would like to develop into an AHHE Special Issue on ‘‘Humanities’ Disciplines ‘Going Public’’’.
Provocation Response to AHHE ‘The Humanities, The Public Intellectual and Human Flourishing’ by Alix Green,
Available at http://thehistoricalimperative.com/2015/05/20/the-humanities-the-public-intellectual-and-human-flourishing-arts-and-humanities-in-higher-education/
First: the case for the public value of the humanities is often premised on ‘outreach’. We take our expertise out into the world, make it accessible, engaging and relevant for a range of audiences. Important work – and Garland’s call for ‘the application of knowledge in the service of the public good’ – is well made, but the basic model that divides ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the university remains. We still hold the authority. The universities are still the knowledge generators and the wider world the beneficiaries. In the case of public policy, for example, I’m not convinced that’s enough – we can’t expect to influence it (or convince policymakers of the merits of the humanities) on an outreach basis. Policymakers may listen, but will they (or should they) think historically or philosophically as part of the decision-making process once the historian or philosopher has left the building?
*Can we really ‘export our expertise’ or do we need to be integrating it in active ways with other forms of expertise inside public institutions?
*What does an academic career look like if we ‘do time’ outside the university as part of a mission to serve the public good?
Second: we tend to accept the marginalisation of the humanities as an inevitable state of affairs. Policymakers ‘naturally’ want ‘hard’ evidence and prioritise economic growth over any sense of cultural value. They certainly seem to, but is this really an inevitable state of affairs? One of the most important characteristics of the humanities disciplines is selfconsciousness – we inspect our assumptions, attend carefully to our terms and appreciate complexity and ambiguity. But the need to defend the humanities seems to have left us little space for practising our crafts to examine the context in which they need defending.
*How can we, as humanists, understand the emergence and persistence of a political culture that privileges such narrow notions of value? Each discipline has a distinctive perspective to bring to this effort. If we can recognise, for example, these beliefs about the value of different forms of knowledge as historical phenomena rather than self-evident truths, we can free our intellectual imaginations to conceive of other, future, contexts in which different beliefs are possible – and how we might contribute to bringing such contexts into being. I absolutely agree with Garland’s call for academics to take on public roles. The question is: and then what?
Send your proposals for essays and illuminative case studies, in reply to the challenge above, to email@example.com by 31st July 2015.