Alana Stein

What is knowledge and who creates it? How is knowledge different from scholarship? These are questions that I have been grappling with over the past week, following our class discussion and as I went through this week’s readings.

For me, an important distinction exists between knowledge and scholarship – the role of the university is what makes the difference. Knowledge can take many forms, such as oral histories, scientific facts, songs, dances, cooking, research, and more. However, the university plays a large role in scholarship. Scholarship comes from someone who has been vetted by the university. Also, scholarship is disseminated through means that the university has defined as legitimate.

The university’s central role in the definition of scholarship begs the important question: who controls knowledge production at the university. Unfortunately, universities have a history full of discrimination against minority groups. This discrimination has persisted in different forms over time. Many minority groups have been denied entry into universities throughout history. Even after being permitted to attend, many minority groups have come to the university only to see the knowledge and history produced by people like them as knowledge not recognized in the university setting. These disparities still persist today and are important to consider as many groups still face great barriers in reaching the university and many more are underrepresented after arriving.

Based on the elite form that scholarship takes, I think we should redefine scholarship in a new form. As we move forward to redefine scholarship in the form of public scholarship, we should make careful note to consider the public – everyone across gender, class, sexuality, and race categories. We should keep in mind the following questions: Who are the people we are producing knowledge for? How is their existing knowledge included and recognized in public scholarship? And how can public scholarship better serve the needs of the public?