On Thinking in Public

What’s a blog for? Thinking about this question on this first day of 2015, I’m also thinking about what purposes my own blog will serve in the year ahead. I mean not just the topics I plan to write about, but the purpose it serves for my public thinking.That’s what a blog is, or at least what purpose this one serves: a place to think out loud; a place for first drafts and open-ended questions. It’s always been that for me, since I moved my online home to this WordPress blog in 2010.

In 2014 I found new purposes and new subjects to write about, in my new work of higher-ed administration. But since 2010 this blog has played a key part of my research life, too, particularly as a digital humanist – a collaborative field where public thinking helps me find the expert advice I need to solve multi-disciplinary problems. And it’s been integral to my teaching work, too: a place to talk about my methods, away from my courses’ own multi-author blogs for student contributions.

There are a few things I want to do here in 2015. The public thinking and (yes) publicity I’ve done in the past will carry on. For instance, the thematic series on my Shakespeare course will continue, particularly until the end of this coming term.

But I’m like to do more forward-thinking than documentation. I don’t yet know which emergent topics and questions for teaching and research beyond 2015 will catch my attention and demand more thought, but I’ll reflect on them here.

I’ll review more books and articles on those topics, and raise ideas around my administrative projects I’m doing. For instance, a new project to define the key attributes of all our graduates in the my faculty has me thinking about what makes an educated person, and if reflective program and curriculum design can do it. Or another project on my faculty’s student engagement scores from 2014 provokes questions about what engagement really looks like, and why the best learning depends on it. Meanwhile, my research project has me considering the ways that human research is changed by the tools we use to conduct it, even in the field of literary criticism.

In the course of 2015 these public musings may provoke or bore you, gain me readers or lose them. They can only document my current thinking. It’s your engagements that will shape my future thinking.

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