What does it mean to do policy-relevant research? How do you know if your ideas have any impact? And is it dangerous to blog, tweet, or otherwise engage with the public while pursuing tenure? Those were just some of the questions academics wrestled with on Tuesday in a conference on "the ideas industry" sponsored by the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Speakers largely hailed from the realm of international relations and foreign policy, but the concerns they raised are found in many corners of academe. Even as legislators and funding agencies call on researchers to connect with the broader public, disciplinary pressures, along with the frequent mismatch of interests between those who study the world and those who shape it, make that no easy task.
"Scholars write what policy makers don’t read, and policy makers make decisions that scholars can’t parse," noted Michael Glennon, a professor of international law at Fletcher, kicking off the discussion...
...Persistence is also important. Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School who organized the conference, is a regular presence in the pages of Foreign Policy and other news media. But he noted that he also has a file cabinet full of rejection letters. "People who do relatively well at this, it doesn’t scar them the way it scars others," he noted.
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