Professor Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj of the department of education leadership management and policy and a director of the Center for College Readiness, published an essay in Education Week, “Education Research Needs a Policy Makeover.”
In her essay, Professor Sattin-Bajaj suggests that the recent presidential election, and the widespread shock that accompanied its results, points to a large disconnect to “the views of a large proportion of the American electorate,” and may serve as notice that an expansion of ideological interaction is in order within higher education and especially among academic researchers.She writes:
Because humans have a natural desire to associate with like-minded people, it is no surprise that researchers tend to collaborate with colleagues who share their worldviews and are similarly motivated to study the same empirical questions. But if the job of education researchers (of whom I am one) is to produce the most rigorous, policy-relevant research possible, we are limiting ourselves by staying in our comfort zone. This harms the quality of our work. The recent emphasis in higher education on interdisciplinary, multi-method research has not included a similar push for the inclusion of multiple ideological perspectives. The tendency to work with scholars who concur on political and policy-related questions contradicts evidence about the value of diverse perspectives for improved decision making.She also notes that:
Publicly engaged researchers are uniquely poised to leverage their platforms—such as academic publications, conference panels, public-speaking events, Twitter, and blogposts—to model the kind of productive dialogue that used to take place decades ago on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in television roundtables, and in university lecture halls. Such exchanges, in which ideas were tested and challenged on merits, not political grounds, can serve to strengthen policy proposals and opportunities for collaboration with colleagues from across the aisle.
Read the full article, “Education Research Needs a Policy Makeover.”