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How the Scholars Strategy Network Helps Academics Gain Public Influence

  • Theda Skocpol


Many American professors are looking for innovative ways to engage policymakers and fellow citizens—and the boldest new endeavor is the fast-growing Scholars Strategy Network. Since 2011, “SSN” (as it is called) has enrolled more than 470 scholars from many disciplines working at over 140 colleges and universities. Many members participate in issue-oriented groups to address major national challenges—ranging from voting rights and the effects of mass incarceration, to health reform implementation, and to women’s roles in politics and government. SSN also supports nineteen regional chapters operating autonomously in states and metropolitan areas from Maine to Hawaii and Minnesota to Texas. Each member presents research findings in vividly written two-page briefs. In turn, SSN staffers and volunteer leaders link members and their research to journalists and bloggers, to policymakers and their staffs, and to citizens associations and advocacy groups concerned with public issues. The Network as a whole is not aligned with any ideology, political party, or candidate. Members espouse varied views and make individual choices about civic engagement, yet they share a belief that scholars should reach beyond the ivory tower and draw from academic research to improve public policy and enhance democracy.



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Broockman, David, and Skovron, Christopher. 2013. “Politicians Think American Voters Are More Conservative Than They Really Are.” Scholars Strategy Network. Key Findings brief, September.
Fried, Amy, and Deprez, Luisa S.. 2012. “In the Public Interest: A Discussion with Theda Skocpol about the Scholars Strategy Network.” Maine Policy Review 21(2): 104–10.
Fried, Amy, and Deprez, Luisa S.. 2014. “No, Kristof, Academics Aren’t Cloistered Like ‘Medieval Monks.’Talking Points Memo (February 17, 4:21 PM EST).
Hacker, et al. . 2014. “An Open Letter to Nicholas Kristof.” Scholars Strategy Network (posted February 18, 2014).
Harvard Magazine. 2013. “The Politics of Climate Change Legislation.” Harvard Magazine, February 15.
Klein, Ezra. 2014. “The Real Reason Nobody Reads Academics.” Bloomberg View, February 28., accessed March 2, 2014.
Kristof, Nicholas. 2014. “Professors, We Need You!New York Times, February 15., accessed May 19, 2014.
McMurtrie, Beth. 2013a. “Tobin Project Coordinates ‘Transformative Research’ by Scholars and Policy Makers.” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 1., accessed May 21, 2014.
McMurtrie, Beth. 2013b. “Social Scientists Seek New Ways to Influence Public Policy.” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 30., accessed May 21, 2014.
McMurtrie, Beth. 2014. “Scholars Wrestle with Challenges of Engaging with Policymakers.” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 30., accessed May 21, 2014.
New York Times Editorial Board. 2012. “Disenfranchised Felons.” July 15, A16.
Sharac, Jessica, Shin, Peter, and Rosenbaum, Sara. 2014. “How Community Health Centers of Millions of Uninsured Are Hurt by the Refusal to Expand Medicaid in Texas.” Scholars Strategy Network, Basic Facts brief. February.
Skocpol, Theda. 2003. Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Skocpol, Theda, Ganz, Marshall, and Munson, Ziad. 2000. “A Nation of Organizers: The Institutional Origins of Civic Voluntarism in the United States.” American Political Science Review 94(3): 527–46.
Skocpol, Theda, and Mettler, Suzanne, Jacobs, Lawrence R., and Hacker, Jacob S.. 2014. “An Open Letter to Nicholas Kristof.” Scholars Strategy Network, February 18.
Tomasky, Michael. 2013. “How Legislators View Their Constituents.” The Daily Beast, September 24., accessed on May 21, 2014.
Tomasky, Michael. 2014. “Texas: Where Crazy Gets Elected.” The Daily Beast, February 26., accessed on May 21, 2014.
Uggen, Christopher. 2012. “What Americans Believe about Voting Rights for Criminals.” Scholars Strategy Network, Key Findings brief, April.
Uggen, Christopher. 2014A Free Subscription for Nicholas Kristof.” The Society Pages, The Editors’ Desk. February 16, 6:17 p.m.
Zhu, Ling, and McBrayer, Markie. 2014. “While California Expands Insurance Coverage, Texas Blocks Health Reform—Despite Greater Needs.” Scholars Strategy Network, Basic Facts brief, February.
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Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
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