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Bridging academia and media (Circle of Blue | Water News)

water One of the reasons why I started a blog that was primarily focused on my research was to bridge the traditional chasm between “ivory-tower academia” and “on-the-street journalism”. It’s been a challenge for me to remain a traditional academic, whose opinion is sought after as an authoritative scholar in a field, for several reasons. First, one of my research areas has focused on the study of transnational networks of activists. I have studied environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and their influence strategies for a decade and I have experienced, first hand, their passion and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to want to take an activist role.

I used to experience the same conundrum with regards to being immersed in the world of new media. I debated whether my writing and energies should be focused purely on disseminating my research findings to the academic world. However, I have realized that, by virtue of bridging my worlds, I have received positive, constructive and well-informed feedback about my scholarly endeavors. I am not the only one who is working on sharing his research findings via social media and new media outlets.

I recently came across Circle of Blue, a strong network of scientists, journalists, scholars focused on water news. Circle of Blue is associated with the Pacific Institute (and co-founded by Dr. Peter Gleick, whom I consider an authority in water research). Gleick is also writing a blog for Circle of Blue where he shares commentary not only about his research but also water projects, etc. I find this quite encouraging for someone like me, who (despite my relatively long career) would be considered in traditional academia an emerging and promising scholar.

I still believe I will keep this blog primarily focused on broadcasting and sharing my own research findings, creating a framework to think about new research ideas and exposing the world to my thoughts on the issues I am thinking about. I believe the model presented in Circle of Blue is an interesting one and I’m looking forward to making use of this online resource on water news.

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One Response

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  1. Dave Macdonald says

    This is an interesting balance. It’s been my experience that academics often tend to keep things behind closed doors until they’re on the verge of publication. It avoids embarrassment should something not work out, it keeps expectations in check and it maintains the element of surprise in their field.

    Do you think new media, blogging in particular, has helped change this? Or do you think there’s some persecution against less established academics (or, say, Masters or PhDs in industry) who use these tools from the ivory tower?

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