Excerpt from Academia in Support of the Public Intellectual: Advancing Human Freedom and Knowledge
In his essay “The American Scholar,” Emerson noted that a public intellectual is one who is enriched by the past yet not bound by books. Thus, they are scholars who seek to enlighten and advance society by sharing their knowledge with others. According to Emerson, scholars who fail to share their knowledge outside of academia are cowards and unworthy of being called an intellectual. Emerson believed intellectuals had a personal obligation to bring enlightenment and awareness to the public.
The future of this nation requires that we continue to advance political and cultural thinking on critical issues. As a society, we need public intellectuals to challenge the status quo and disrupt powerful interests that interfere with our democratic way of life. Contemporary intellectuals have the opportunity to engage the public on issues ranging from Middle East policies, health disparities, social injustice, institutionalized racism, income inequality, and more. Recognizing the vast importance of these and other societal issues, academic institutions have a responsibility for ensuring that voices of intellectuals are not stifled amongst the intelligentsia but are heralded as beacons that advance human freedom and knowledge.
Read the entire article at UCF Faculty Focus (Page 5)