Commentary: The Dilemmas of Disciplines Going Public

Harvey J. Graff
Inside Higher Ed

Excerpt:  Public sociology. Public and applied history. Public humanities. Science in the public interest. Across the disciplines, we hear renewed calls for an active public role for academics. We also hear occasional warnings. That is heartening—and necessary in our world of misinformation and division—but it is disheartening, as well.

We are witnessing a recurrence today as both new and continuing job shortages, as well as layoffs and threatened censorship—aka free speech violations—and necessary efforts to apply scholarly knowledge to combat dangerous misinformation combine with sometimes outrageous self-promotional schemes. Today’s intemperate false competition between the documented and professionally revised “1619 Project,” and the fringe ideological and anti-historical “1620,” “1776” and “1836” Projects for “canceling” and teaching an inclusive fact-based American history dramatically illustrate this