This colloquium asks what forms of academic labor are required to respond to current social, political and economic crises. It reflects, in particular, on how communication scholars might address a situation in which the media are seen as intimately connected both to the emergence of and the solution to these crises. To what extent should academics remain aloof from social movements or should our research and teaching directly inform and mobilize campaigns for social justice? The colloquium will offer a space in which to discuss how academics are simultaneously urged to 'engage' in the social world in order to achieve 'impact' (and some have been extremely 'impactful') and to retain a scholarly detachment that protects their 'neutrality'. How should we deal with what is a potentially misleading binary between 'scholarly' and 'political' activity in order to pursue a 'committed' approach to academic work?
Des Freedman is Professor of Media and Communications in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Contradictions of Media Power (2014), The Politics of Media Policy (2008), and (with James Curran and Natalie Fenton) Misunderstanding the Internet (2016). He was a founding member of the Media Reform Coalition and Project Lead of the 2016 Inquiry into the Future of Public Service Television chaired by Lord Puttnam.