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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