I noticed recently that we would celebrate a notable milestone in the evolution of this column and it seems appropriate to mark it. Whitney Knollenberg’s work published today marks the 25th essay in the RE: Reflections and Explorations series. Graduate students from multiple academic programs have contributed insights on salient issues and concerns arising from their research in these papers. Topics have ranged from leadership, to the role of the arts in catalyzing potential for social change, to democratic possibility, to international development and more. Doubtless, this diversity in subject matter can be dizzying. But for you, the reader, I hope it has likewise as often been intriguing and exhilarating.
In many ways this series is a microcosm of the broader university, which it evokes and invokes. First, like the faculty and students across the institution, Reflections surely mirrors the curiosity, self-discipline and intelligence of those who take the time to offer their evolving thoughts and insights to produce it. Series authors have shared the products of their research in a vigorous and clear-eyed sprit of intellectual inquiry. Second, students have developed this series, as all scholarship is created, in the explicit hope that it would spark a dialogue with and among its readers. Finally, as is true of all serious authors, these writers have worked hard to offer their ideas cleanly and accessibly.
For those involved, the challenge has been to provide a lens into issues with which they are grappling and to do so for a diverse audience in an understandable way. Participants in this series enjoy the freedom to choose their own topics and to ask questions related to those concerns and to address such issues linked to them as they see fit. But they must also render those arguments intelligibly for a broader audience, to whom they are ever responsible.
This journey has been a stimulating one for me personally and for all of us at the Institute and one that provides the students involved an outlet to share their research passions and developing thinking while strengthening their capabilities to do so in the future. RE: Reflections and Explorations neatly embodies the truism that membership in the academy has ever been a privilege that comes laden simultaneously with responsibility.
I want to thank each of our contributors publicly for their ongoing thoughtful engagement, the heart and soul of this enterprise. It has been and remains a special personal privilege for me to work with each of these young authors as they have refined their efforts.
Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director,
Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance