The borders of outreach: do we need to reframe the public role of academics?
Scholars are increasingly called upon to ‘engage with’ and ‘have an impact’ on the wider world. Yet reaching out is not always that simple, as Ruben Andersson has come to note in his research on migration, borders and security.
Indeed, these political fields are illustrative of a deeper problem of outreach faced by many academics today: which messages and audiences should we prioritise, and how may our findings and analyses translate into a crowded and fractured public debate?
In this talk, Ruben Andersson reflects on his own experience of crossing the borders between academia, policy, the media and advocacy, arguing for the need to ‘take back control’ over the ways in which we engage. Instead of finding ourselves captured by more powerful interests, answering pre-set policy questions on a given problem, he puts focus on how we may help switch the parameters of debate – including by asking new questions altogether.
Ruben Andersson is an anthropologist and associate professor at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford. He has written extensively on the anthropology of borders, migration and security, and is the author of Illegality, Inc. (2014) and No Go World (2019).
This keynote addess is free and open to the public.