Being a Public Intellectual: Historians and the Public
Peniel Joseph, Tufts University
Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Claire Bond Potter, New School for Public Engagement
Julian Zelizer, Princeton University
This roundtable will bring together five leading historians who have been active as public intellectuals, ranging from television appearances, to blogging, to writing opeds, to participating in documentaries. They will have a coversation about their own experiences in balancing the demands of the university and the interest that exists for historical knowledge in the public arena. Rather than a conversation about whether this is good or bad for the profession, each will talk specifically about the strategies that they have employed to achieve success. How have they translated academic findings to a broader public? How have academic debates informed their public opinions and how have their experiences as public intellectuals influenced their academic writing and teaching ? How do their contributions differ from journalists? What are some of the ways in which they have promoted their ideas and what kinds of debates have most interested them? What are some of the greatest dangers of crossing these boundaries? What are the different platforms to communicate ideas outside the university? Together with a discussion with the audience we are convinced this will be an exciting and important conversation.