Going Beyond Kristoff’s “Is Being Academic Being Irrelevant?” – The Example of Academics Stand Against Poverty
Nicholas Kristoff has stirred quite a controversy by critiquing in his NYT blog the (self)- isolation of US Academia from the policy community. My initial reaction is to agree with at least some of the conclusions he draws – especially about the rarified nature of political science. From a personal perspective, having attended the International Studies Association conference pretty much every year for the past decade, it is getting less and less interesting/relevant to a policy person. The field appears to be crushed by a lack of imagination, excess quantitative analysis, a lack of insight into or experience of the policy-making world by young academics, and excess incentives around influencing the esoteric academic debate rather than real world challenges.
On the other hand, there are many examples of academics reaching out to influence the policy-making community and wider conversations among citizens. Academics Stand Against Poverty is one of these groups. This organisation (I am on the board supporting the national chapters) is an international professional association focused on helping poverty researchers and teachers enhance their positive impact on severe poverty. It does so by promoting collaboration among poverty-focused academics, effective outreach to policy makers and broader public audiences, and by helping academics turn their expertise into impact through specific intervention projects. One of their projects is Impact Global Poverty, an online series of articles and interviews detailing how academics have approached the promotion of direct positive impact on poverty alleviation policy and practice.