Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Punishment" at Durham Book Festival #dbf13

It was a pleasure to speak in this year's Durham Book Festival and sponsored by Durham University's Institute for Advanced Study.

I was involved in a small panel of academic authors. It was wonderful to speak about my book Punishment and how it came together.

Our focus was discussing the topic of academic authors writing for a more general audience. My view remains that the best way to go about writing to a more general audience is to begin speaking with one. One obvious starting point is undergraduate lectures: much of the material for my books and articles begins in undergraduate lectures or graduate seminar discussions.

A second avenue is engaging with audiences away from university buildings. I've had the honour - and delight - of speaking to various political events where I always learn something important about politics, legal reform and how ideas might be shaped even better to reach a more diverse audience beyond academia.

The third avenue is online blogs, Twitter and the like - but I think this is best approached after one's "message" has been honed through the previous two avenues.

But no matter which path(s) we might take, it is clear - or at least clear to me - there is much more we academics can and should do.


Alan White said...

Thom, your last comment should be emblazoned on every conferred PhD. Public engagement is a responsibility for all academics who wish their interests to matter: our students are not just those who sit in desks in classes. We need to write letters to editors, give public lectures, and write to wider audiences than a few dozen or so specialists in a sub-field (even if we do that also).

Bravo for being an archetype of that kind of real, relevant academic.

Thom Brooks said...

Most kind of you, Alan! Really hope we meet sometime soon so I can thank you in person.