I travel a lot. I’m a geographer, after all. I’m on a plane right now. In the past three weeks, I’ve taken six trips, crossed the country twice by plane, been home for about 3 days total, and left the country once all in the name of sharing and public scholarship. I am heading back from Tacoma, Washington right now and it’s 4 am EST time. And I’m ready to share some more. I live to explore and travel. The thrill of meeting new people in new places, and reconnecting with old faces in familiar places is a large part of my work as a public scholar. But the one thing I’ve learned is that my travels provide me with a privileged platform to share. To share our story – the story of public scholarship through Citizen Science GIS and to share the stories of all of the community partners we work with in our research. Sometimes that sharing happens in a conference room or on the big stage like my recent high-profile speaking engagements at the Esri Oceans Forum and the National Geographic Education Summit. Sometimes its in a classroom or library full of eager young explorers wanting an adult to tell them it’s okay to dream, try something new, and think they have a future in science. Sometimes its online through social media and blogging like this post. And other times (probably my favorite times) it’s with a fisherman on a boat or an island in Belize. All of this sharing is at the core of my identity as a public scholar. I often am asked, “Doc, why do you share so much about what you do outside the normal academic outlets like papers and conferences.” The answer is simple: as a public scholar, it is my responsibility to share. And it’s your responsibility as well. Everywhere I go, I wave the flag for public scholarship.
To my academic friends, let me be really clear about something: sharing what you do in a less jargon-specific way and in a setting where people from the non-academic world can see what you do (without paying fees to come to a conference or to read your journal article). We all need to be better at it (myself included). So I’ll pose a question to my friends: how can we better share what we do with people from all walks of life?
And while we’re thinking about sharing, let me tell you what I’ve seen from my own experience sharing our work. As academics, when we share, something really magical happens. Everyday, extraordinary people share their stories, their knowledge, their talents, and their passions. This sharing informs our Citizen Science GIS team’s research in so many ways. And I promise you that if we all continue to think of creative ways to share what we do, then together, we can make science more inclusive, responsive, and transformative. Sharing is that simple concept we all learned in our early lessons from our families and our teachers. Let’s not forget that simple concept. Sharing opens up opportunities. Let’s all rethink the ways in which we can share our work, and more importantly, let’s all rethink the ways in which we can let those that are traditionally and wrongly excluded from academic research be sharers of their knowledge, talents, and passions to inform science. Together, everything is possible.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below on how we can come together to better share our knowledge, talents and passions to inform science. Please comments and share with your networks.