Tag Archives: ethics

Scholarship of Engagement — Prof. Conrad Fink “Guest Blog” (Part I)

23 Mar


It’s been five years since my favorite professor and UGA legend Conrad Fink passed away. I recently rediscovered a Fall 1998 issue of the University of Georgia Research Report. (Not sure why I have it — I arrived in Athens for my graduate studies in 2001 — but I’m really glad I do.) Inside are Fink’s poignant and prescient remarks about academe’s obligation to engage the general public and major trends in higher education and communications that very few at the time had fully considered. Only Fink could make a research journal that engaging! In the tidy package are the timeless themes of caring, giving and sharing and how truly meaningful work must include those things.

Does the scholar truly have an obligation to relate learning to the general public? Let me ask you: Do scholars have a responsibility to shine light in dark corners? To help good triumph over evil? To assist reason in the eternal war against chaos?

Yes, scholars do have a responsibility to interact with the public — and I personally question that proposition no more than I would question whether I have a responsibility to dart into traffic and pull a child to safety. I question the proposition no more than I question whether a physician has a responsibility to heal.

And I don’t mean scholars should sit demurely on the sidelines, waiting to be asked to the dance. I favor aggressive scholarship of engagement, as it was termed by the late Ernest Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

But why do I feel so strongly about this?

It probably has something to do with my Methodist upbringing. I think that anyone — not just scholars, but anyone — who possesses something of value is obliged to share that in some way with humankind. Scholars are uniquely positioned to fulfill this moral obligation when they possess something of value: facts, revelations, insights, thoughtful reflection. Pull the child from the traffic, assist humankind’s search for truth and progress. Both are moral obligations and both require active effort by scholars that go beyond simply sharing with other scholars in the tight little world of academe.

To Be Continued


Stat of the Week: Executive Decisions & Business Affairs

17 Nov

The anti-Big Business fervor has, um, occupied much of the media coverage and thus a great deal of the public consciousness the past couple of months. Much of it is well founded, but like most movements or political discussions there is also unproductive stereotyping on both sides of the debate.  

Cutting through the cheap talk, the latest World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey helps to paint a clearer picture of the state of (business) affairs, ranking America:

• 86th for costs imposed on business by organized crime

• 50th for public trust in the ethics of politicians (I’m shocked, shocked!)

• 42nd for various forms of bribery

• 40th for standards of auditing and financial reporting

In fact, the U.S. makes the global top 20 in only one area: investor protection.

— Source: Niall Ferguson