Public scholarship is research-based work intended for audiences beyond the university. At its best, public scholarship bridges the gap between scholarly expertise and the public’s desire to better understand current events. Public scholarship of religion and philosophy, for instance, provides important textual, cultural, and historical context for pressing issues like healthcare legislation, climate change, and immigration reform. If you haven’t studied religion and philosophy, it’s not immediately clear how these topics help shape these conversations. Public scholarship presents academic research and teaching in readable but nuanced ways, helping non-experts better understand the most crucial challenges facing our increasingly global community.
Many faculty in our department engage in public-facing scholarship. For example, my own research has addressed Muslim women’s fashion in mainstream media outlets like The Atlantic and L.A. Times, and I have written about Muslim women’s activism in a series of articles for Teen Vogue. Patricia Illingworth has written commentaries on health care policy for Health Affairs and gun regulation for the Hastings Center. Adam Hosein has written for the Boston Review on immigration and human rights. Megan Goodwin has written articles about the role of religion in the current administration’s regulation of women’s bodies, and the overlap between religion and racism in current politics; she has also discussed the relevance of her research about minority religions on a number of podcasts.
Northeastern has recently been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Luce Foundation, on which I am the primary investigator, for a project called Sacred Writes, which is intended to promote accessible, nuanced public scholarship on religion and theology. The idea behind the project is to fill the urgent need for better public comprehension of religion’s vital role in current events, and to increase the opportunities for scholars to learn to write for non-academic audiences. Sacred Writes will provide academics invested in public scholarship the training, networks, and platforms to translate their expertise into trenchant public commentary. To learn more, follow the project on Twitter @Sacred_Writes. More public scholarship from members of the Department can be found on the Ethics Institute website and can be followed on the Department Facebook feed.
Professor Elizabeth Bucar
Associate Professor of Religious Studies