Political Scientists: Marching Toward Oblivion?

A quick blurb about something related to my post on the coming extinction of the university as we know it:

The June issue of Perspectives on Politics has an article by Lisa Anderson, president of the American University in Cairo, in which she discusses the increasing irrelevance of political scientists. I’m going to quote her at length (page 386 of the article):

The “transformation in the availability of information has eroded authority, undermined hierarchies, and upended the organizational mechanisms by which knowledge is developed, collected, and disseminated around the world. This has meant a decline in interest in and deference to universities and university-based research and has lessened popular estimates of what the university-based political scientist has to offer to students, citizens, politicians, and policy makers. If we as political scientists are to regain the esteem of the public, it will be because we have engaged them on new terms—the terms of a twenty-first century in which information is abundant and the sort of formal credentials we university-based political scientists have all worked so hard to secure are relatively inconsequential. What we must be prepared to do is engage our students and colleagues as well as our fellow citizens and policymakers, in the relatively informal, non-hierarchical networks of collaboration, reciprocity, and shared wisdom in which the next generations are already beginning to live, learn, and work . . .

As political scientists, we need to be far less attached to a view of ourselves as uniquely knowledgeable; we are no longer the repositories and carriers of rare and therefore valuable cultural and scientific information. We must be far more willing to see ourselves as guides, advocates and facilitators of learning.”

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