For some time, I’ve been developing my ideas on a topic I call “intellectual activism,” which I define as using scholarly research to inform and shape social change initiatives. Two weeks ago, I hopped on a train to New York to give a lunchtime talk on intellectual activism to faculty members of the City University of New York Law School (CUNY), located in Long Island City, Queens. CUNY Law is one of the nation’s leading incubators of future public interest lawyers, so this was a great opportunity to discuss the topic with a receptive group of colleagues.
I examined how law professors can use our legal scholarship as the foundations for engaging in legislative advocacy, impact litigation, and public education through social media. I used my work concerning workplace bullying and unpaid internships as personal examples, but the discussion went well beyond that, as others in the room shared their experiences and interests.
Theory, research, and practice all come together in this model. Effective intellectual activism requires sharp thinking and research, honest and dispassionate analysis, and common sense grounded in experience and observation. Ideally this blend leads to us to prescriptive responses that are, as I like to say it, responsibly bold.
For a copy of my paper, “Law Professors as Intellectual Activists,” go here.