The John Templeton Foundation has invested in training scholars to communicate their work because they understand that scholars must learn to communicate directly with the public if they are to positively impact the wellbeing of others. The goal of this proposal is to build on the JTF’s investments in the “Beyond the Ivory Tower” workshop series led by James Ryerson and increase the scale of its impacts. We will pursue this aim in two ways. First, we will establish an online document-sharing and discussion platform for workshop alumni and JTF awardees. Alumni will be able to continue learning from each other and JTF grantees will benefit from learning from them. The result will be a growing community of scholars who write, pitch, and publish scholarly ideas about the big questions in popular outlets. Active networks of this type - communities of practice - are crucial in the contemporary media landscape.
Second, we will produce online content that captures core educational elements of Ryerson’s workshops. We propose two forms: short, scripted distillations of concepts and practices covered in the workshop (“Object Lessons”) and longer, unscripted (but structured and edited) conversations between Ryerson and authors he’s published in the New York Times (“Line Edits”). These two forms blend the abstract and applied pedagogical moments that lead to successful learning during the workshops. Object Lessons will draw upon transcripts of Ryerson’s workshops, reflecting the main lessons and questions of the sessions, like “What is an ‘Idea Story’?” or “Art of the Pitch”. Line Edits will reproduce elements of the peer editing and group critique portions of the workshop, demonstrating how abstract values and constraints are applied in the publication history, intellectual context, and actual text of a specific piece.