Recently, I have been thinking about ways to translate my research into public forms of writing. I wrote two essays – both of which drew directly from my research. The goal of each was to use the history of student activism in the 1960s as a lens onto contemporary campus protest today. I tried two different frameworks. For the “The Philosophy of a Young Activist,” I used Mario Savio’s little-known 1993 lecture as a way to shift the focus from free speech to deeper moral questions about the university. After some reflection, I decided it didn’t work. So, I tried again, this time emphasizing the relationship between sixties activism and service learning. The goal here was to resurrect the ideas of sixties activities and demonstrate that their ideas (and actions) have positively impacted American colleges and universities.
Unfortunately, neither got published. One lesson that I draw from both attempts: the moral argument is still unclear. When rooted in the scholarship and directed to more narrow audiences, the argument is much easier to write. The challenge going forward is how to more effectively ground the moral argument and (hopefully) provide my readers with a different lens to think about higher education and student activism today.
Despite the fact that neither articles were accepted for publication, I found the writing process useful and will try again (perhaps next Spring). Until then, I wanted to share these drafts with you. Happy Reading!