Black Public Scholars

August 16, 2010

Dr. Boyce Watkins: What is Scholarship in Action?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University  – The Institute for Black Public Policy

I’ve made it clear in the past that I support the notion of Scholarship in Action.  While some know the Syracuse University interpretation of this concept, I have found that in some cases, African American scholarship is left in the margins of academic work.  Therefore, I felt the need to expand on this concept with what I call “Black Scholarship in Action,” which is based on the idea of black scholars becoming engaged with the world and doing what is right for our communities.

Here are some thoughts on what Scholarship in Action means to me as an African American Professor:

1) Re-connecting with our communities and using our expertise for the greater good.  We have too much brain power and too many problems to allow our greatest intellectual resources to be locked away writing research papers that hardly anyone is ever going to read.

2) Being courageous enough to honestly share our insights with the world, even if they are not popular.  Capability without courage makes you socially impotent.

3) Following up our rhetoric with assertive action.  There is nothing more to say about that.  Talking about something is not the same as actually doing something.  We have to make sure we know the difference.

4) Confronting consistent discrimination within academia.  Too many universities consistently deny hiring and tenure to African American scholars, and this has to stop.  Universities must be held accountable to their data, and if a campus has any department that has not tenured an African American in more than a decade, they should be sued for racial discrimination, especially if it can be proven that African Americans with strong credentials are applying for positions in that department.

Again, these are the Dr. Boyce Watkins perspectives on what it means to be a high action scholar, so your views might differ from my own.  But it is my firm belief that The Age of the Black Scholar has arrived, especially if we decide that it’s going to arrive right now.  No one can stop us, but us…..so let’s define our own destiny.

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