By Dave Andrusko
When I ask our kind readers for suggestions, you never fail to come up with good ideas. I’m about to ask for another round of responses to an article I wrote based on an article at “Inside Higher Education” headlined “Snapshot Dissertation.”
In two paragraphs, or fewer, I’ll show you why it speaks to us, and once again make a request.
Duke University has what reporter Colleen Flaherty describes as an initiative to “forge connections between academics and other community members.” It’s called Scholars and Publics and the hope (my summary here) is to find a common language by which the scholarly community and the rest of us can “talk.” It’s starting in the sciences, but the intent is to spread across all disciplines.
One component is for graduate students to be able to encapsulate their dissertations in a 30-60-second video. I don’t think this is more than a variation on the idea that if you can’t explain something orally, you don’t really understand it. Instead the objective is to “teach [students] to imagine explaining what they’re learning to their parents or grandparents,” according to Huntington Willard, director of Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, in an e-mail interview with Flaherty.
The application to us is obvious, is it not? We can explain the case for life at an academic level only other professors of philosophers can grasp. Or we can make our argument in language that is pure emotion. Or we can use pro-life “jargon” whose meaning is self-evident (to us) but leaves those outside the “community” scratching their heads.
I am NOT asking for one or two minute videos. That is too time-consuming and would eliminate too many people (including me) in a hurry.
What I am asking is for our readers to write down the equivalent of what could be said out loud in a one or two minutes.
What would you say to someone who is not hostile or belligerent (that’s a whole other topic) but simply has never engaged the abortion directly?
Many of you may have already done that—had conversations with the “mushy middle”—but most may not have. But what would you say? What do you think you could offer in such a limited timespan that might get the person thinking about the core issues?
I could offer categories, but that would defeat the whole purpose. I’d like to read what YOU would say—or have said—that could gently pry open a mind that is, if not closed shut, stuck.
Please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Flaherty’s story can be read at www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/22/duke-proposes-mandatory-short-video-pitch-accompany-dissertations.)