Academics and Activism by Ivy Helman

unnamedTwo weeks ago, I spoke at a conference entitled “The Role of Academia and Religious Leaders in Relation to Refugees and the ‘Refugee Crisis,’” in Bratislava, Slovakia.  One of the main questions of the conference was: what role do academics play in the refugee crisis?  Are academics activists?  Many conference presenters and attendees directly linked the two ideas.  However, there were some who voiced their concern as to how in-touch academics actually are with reality and surmised that because of this academics probably weren’t activists. Wait!  What?  How can we not be activists?

On the way to the first night’s dinner, I had a conversation with someone who did not see academics as activists.  Why?  The response I got was that academic research functioned in a way that was largely inaccessible to the public and therefore academic work, academic participation in conferences as well as publishing was, for lack of…

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