Public scholarship aims to introduce academic research to a wide audience, one that doesn’t subscribe to journals or possess the time to wade through lengthy articles or books.
Wichita State University political science professor Dinorah Azpuru is doing her part to help people’s understanding of political science with her work in the Washington Post “The Monkey Cage,” a blog dedicated to “making sense of the circus that is politics,” as the blog describes itself.
She has submitted three articles to the blog, most recently one that examines declining trust in and support for democracy in Latin America.
“It comes from the discipline’s self-criticism that political science is about politics, which is very important, but no one was reading other than ourselves,” Azpuru said. “What are you contributing to the understanding of politics if people can’t read it?”
The Monkey Cage is an independent site published at the Washington Post.
At Wichita State, Azpuru teaches courses focused on democracy, foreign policy and comparative politics (the politics of other countries). She also teaches specific courses on Latin America. She considers the region critically important to the United States for several reasons, including security and economic issues.
“We’ve got to pay attention to that region,” she said.
Her appreciation for democracy comes from her childhood in Guatemala, living under military rule. She attended lectures on democracy organized by the U.S. Embassy as a youngster. In high school, she spent a year in Iowa as a foreign exchange student.
“I didn’t grow up in a democracy,” she said. “I always admired democracy in the U.S. I loved seeing how people could get involved in it.”
As part of her public scholarship, Azpuru also contributes with a blog in Spain’s main newspaper “El Pais” and makes public presentations of her research findings to non-academic audiences in Latin America.
“The idea is to share research – it’s research-based, not opinion,” she said. “You try to make it accessible to people who are not political scientists. I like to share what I do.”
Azpuru’s most recent article in The Monkey Cage is headlined: “Latin American democracy may be in trouble. The protests are a symptom of increasing mistrust.”