Over the weekend, Nicholas Kristof wrote a widely read piece asking where the public intellectual has gone. For those of you who may have missed the editorial, Kristof argues that the culture of PhD programs and the tenure process have forced the academy inward, celebrating dense prose published in little-read, high-priced journals. He notes that academics have been slow to embrace blogging and the use of social media platforms. Kristof also argues the research academics produce has far fewer consequences or conclusions for policy and the public than it has in the past, meaning that the “public intellectual” is a dying breed.
Almost immediately, the various public intellectuals that Kristof couldn’t find took to their blogs and Twitter accounts with gusto, reminding him and us that there are indeed many academics that have made a point of sharing their work on public platforms. Perhaps my favorite response comes from a guest post at Tenured Radical. The writer argues that, as a public university professor, she works as a “public intellectual” every day of the week. Kristof has re-tweeted many of the critiques, creating a running dialogue about his piece on his Twitter feed.