March 16, 2015 Carole Levy

Making bricks, not shaping policy


When I have the time, I love to illustrate the research of academics and thought leaders, especially when their work is connected to my own centers of interest. I recently worked for Andrew Hoffman, professor and director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, who was looking for a cartoonist to illustrate an idea.

Andrew Hoffman offers a daring perspective on academic scholarship that “had become fixated on generating lots of pieces of knowledge –bricks- and far less concerned with putting them together into a cohesive whole”. Academic success had become about how many times an article has been cited in specialized journals that very few read. Instead, success should be based on making academic knowledge available to everyone in order to inform important national debates like climate change, nanotechnology, nuclear power, GMOs, autisms and vaccines and so on. In short, it’s time for academics to step outside their ivory tower and meet the public – people like me- who are starving for education and proven data in a confused and often poorly informed social media or TV world.

Here is an essay adapted from Andrew Hoffman book How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate (Stanford University Press, 2015).

And here is the idea he asked me to illustrate. I hope you’ll appreciate the reflection.



Comments (4)

  1. Shari Rivas

    Great cartoon. It really sheds the light on the isue:)
    Shari Rivas

  2. Tamara Trussell

    The ivory tower has become the holder of much information that is touted as “good science” when common sense and results are leading toward opposite conclusions…example: herbicides, pesticides, GMO’s, nuclear power, etc. Too many “scientific results” have not been really tested before application and the “ah ha” when cancer, asthma, allergies emerge is an “ah ha” too late. We, the people, need more say before “they” decide along with big companies, who paid for the “research,” to apply their “science” for “our good.” The entanglement between the ivory tower and corporations is too knotted to be able to tell where science and profits begin and end. Thus, time to take the conversation OUT of the ivory towers and corporations and back into the streets until the entanglement is undone. Thanks for posting this Carole! Most excellent.

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