This summer, the Sacred Writes project at Northeastern University welcomed its first cohort of religion and theology scholars for a training seminar on producing public scholarship. Participants have already put their newly honed skills to work, publishing engaging articles that discuss religion’s relationship to issues of race, sexuality, and social justice.
In addition to hosting training workshops, Sacred Writes also supports scholars of religion by connecting them with knowledge resources and facilitating collaborations with media.
Sacred Writes has designed its trainings to address a gap between disciplinary expertise and effective communication strategies. Scholars of religion and theology are in a unique position to provide crucial textual, cultural, and historical context for pressing current issues like healthcare legislation, climate change, and immigration reform, but most lack the training to do that sort of public-facing work. Doctoral programs prioritize formal communication that emphasizes scholarly expertise over accessible writing. Institutions seldom reward or recognize tenured and tenure-track scholars for public scholarship. Senior mentors often lack experience in non-academic publishing.
Sacred Writes’ trainings provide scholars with opportunities to acquire skills, identify resources, push disciplinary boundaries, and build communities of accountability and support to produce public scholarship on religion. Topics to be covered include: pitching and writing an op-ed; building a professional brand; using social media to promote and amplify scholarship; collaborating with journalists; cultivating camera-readiness; strategies for communicating with a variety of audiences; and assessing the personal and professional risks of public scholarship.