How researchers get heard

THE PODCAST

Episode #2

Natalia Mehlman Petrzela: Public Scholarship & Owning Your Ideas

The New School historian on when to turn down a media opportunity, why corporations need historians on staff, how she preps for a podcast and why female scholars need to own their ideas publicly ASAP.

Show Notes

Transcript

BOB (intro): This is Science + Story. I’m Bob Lalasz. On today’s show how much better would the world be if places like Facebook and Nike had historians working there?

NATALIA (quote): How many idiotic, historically-amnesic ad campaigns have you seen where you think, if they just had a historian on staff would they really, like, be – would Nike invoke the lost cause in their trail-running ads? Like, no.

BOB (intro): That’s Natalia Mehlman Petrzela. She’s a historian of contemporary American politics and culture at the New School. She’s also an advocate for more historians in public life, as journalists, in government, and yeah, even stopping Nike from running stupid ad campaigns. As a public scholar she walks the talk herself. She’s an authority on the history of fitness in America and so she’s pretty much on call for media interviews.

[0:01:00]

BOB (intro): She’s also written dozens of op-eds for places like the Atlantic, and the Washington Post, and NBC News. Her forthcoming book on American fitness culture is called “Fit Nation.” She even cohosts a long-running contemporary history podcast called “Past Present.” Coming up, I talk with Natalia about why she’s so driven to be a public scholar, how academic institutions can incentivize more public scholarship, and why she thinks female researchers need to establish their own platforms instead of waiting for reporters to call them.

BOB: You have a long-running podcast. You write for popular media. I just watched your sizzle reel that you have on your website. You interview people–I think that was for lifetime–you get interviewed a ton, you’ve written books that a general audience can profit from, you’re on Twitter a lot. Where does public scholarship start, and where does…

[0:02:00]

BOB: …scholarship end? Because I look at that sizzle reel and I go, “This is a scholar in public. She’s decided to live her scholarship in public,” which I think is fantastic and I wish more scholars would do – doing that. But how do you think about that continuum and where scholarship ends and public scholarship begins, or does it? Is that mind fuzzy?

NATALIA: That’s a great question, and first, thanks for spending so much time with my far-reaching work, some of it probably more interesting to spend time with than others. So I appreciate that very much, and being on this podcast. So I do think that the boundary between scholarship and public scholarship is really permeable. And I think also that sometimes there is a false dichotomy that a lot of scholars set up between public-facing work and scholarship. And often that dichotomy, which I think is false, is also a false hierarchy. That, like, the real work is the peer-reviewed journal article, or the University Press-published…

[0:03:00]

NATALIA: …book, and that the other stuff is, like, somehow (pop), or light, or less important. I think that’s wrong. I think that distinction and hierarchy is only correct when you’re talking about what [quote, unquote] “counts” on the tenure-track promotion cycle. But that honestly is a track that is becoming less and less a reality for scholars. So I think that that kind of distinction should be less and less salient. So for me, I think, look, there are questions about life in today and in the past that I am very, very passionate about figuring out the answers to. I have the privilege of having the kind of job where I have a significant amount of resources and training to be able to answer those questions in the most intense, engaged way possible, spending days or weeks in archives, engaging with literatures that can take weeks to get a grasp on. And then…

[0:04:00]

NATALIA: …you know, having peers who have complementary expertise that can help me make that work even better. That I think is fantastic and we should never devalue that kind of [quote, unquote] “traditional scholarship.” That said, to me some of the highest good that I can do as a historian, or honestly as a human being, is to share this work that I do think is important with people who are not in academic conferences, and not reading peer-reviewed journals, which are usually behind paywalls, and who don’t have the time or the desire to do that kind of sustained, focused work. And so to that end both writing an op-ed in the Washington Post or having a podcast – to me, doing that and doing the – more traditionally to find scholarly work, those are part of the same goal, to figure out the answers to kind of the most important questions that get me up in the morning. But they’re doing it in different but equally important ways. And if you’re a data person…

[0:05:00]

NATALIA: …you know, I probably touched a lot more people with my podcast or with a 1,200-word op-ed than I have in some of these more traditionally-valued mediums that I don’t have to defend as being worthwhile.

BOB: So how do you know when you’ve got an opportunity to appear on TV, do you an interview with someone on the radio, to write an op-ed, how do you know whether it’s worth it or not? How do you measure effectiveness?

NATALIA: That is a great point, and it’s (one) I’m figuring out the answer to, honestly, as each opportunity arises. I was not – really not great at that a couple of years ago. And I think I felt so flattered and honored that anybody was asking me to do anything, that I would just be, like, “Yes, sure,” and sort of jumping on the opportunity to write any blog post or to do any kind of TV thing, because it felt like almost that, you know, I was lucky to have that, and who knows how long it’s going to last so I should jump on everything.

[0:06:00]

NATALIA: That is a quick path to exhaustion and to feeling like you’re not doing anything that well. And I felt very quickly like I was being pulled in too many different directions. So what I try to do now is really when I am lucky enough–and I do think some of this is still luck, and I’m always grateful for it–to get an invitation to get a talk, or to write something, or to do any other number of things, I try to think really hard–first, does this sound fun? I’m a pretty high-energy person and I love doing stuff, so a lot of stuff does sound fun. That’s a pretty low bar. Two, you know, is it logistically-feasible for me to figure out that I could fit this into my life with the other commitments that I have? And then, three–and this is the one that requires the most thought–is this thing I’m being asked to do something where I really can make a unique contribution, where there aren’t other people who I could recommend, or who are doing similar work, or who have already answered these questions? Is this the kind of ask where my perspective…

[0:07:00]

NATALIA: …and my voice is not only feasible for me to offer, but where it really will make a difference, where I will be offering a new idea that I think my background and my perspectives make me uniquely qualified to share. And that is one that requires the most thought, there’s now checklist for it, but there is a kind of gut-check with it, and I try really hard to only say yes to those things.

BOB: Okay. I came across your work through a piece you wrote in the Atlantic, first of all, about Marianne Williamson, which I found fascinating. I guess it was an attempt to – “rehabilitate” is the wrong word, but reappreciate what Marianne Williamson – an aspect that Marianne Williamson was bringing to political intervention, namely self-care, that had been lost or forgotten perhaps along the way through the development over the last couple of decades, especially on the left.

[0:08:00]

BOB: And then I’ve read a number of other things that you’ve written, longer essays. How do you decide when you’re going to write those long pieces? Do you make pitches? Are people approaching you? Because those are – they take a substantial amount of time, a substantial amount of thought. You do have a book coming out and I want to talk about that a little bit, that’s in line with some of those pieces. Another one that I read was about the rise of Peloton, and Mirror, and some of these other interactive exercise devices that allow people to be at home in a communal space, which is an interesting development in the history of fitness. But how do you decide to take those opportunities on?

NATALIA: Yeah, well, right now I’ve put the kibosh on pitching anything until I finish that book manuscript. So sometimes we must make hard choices. But usually I make the decision to pitch… And I do pitch a lot. Sometimes people come to me, but – so it’s a mixture. But I pitch more, and I get more no’s by the way than people are asking me…

[0:09:00]

NATALIA: …to write things that I am mixed, in places that seem new and exciting. So I’ll make that clear. But really what happens usually is something happens in the news, or I hear something, and I – I’m, like, that’s really interesting. God, this thing that I’ve been studying, which usually has been sort of on not just – not my backburner necessarily, but on the backburner or invisible in the public conversation, I think, wow, that would really shed interesting light on this thing that everybody’s talking about right now. I haven’t seen anything once, you know, like, 12 hours passes, but anybody else is saying this in this particular way. And then I tend to have this, like, burning, irrepressible desire to say this thing, or to work on it and work through it. It always takes longer than I think, always. But what tends to happen then is I’ll either reach out to an editor that I have an existing relationship or cold-pitch, which I do and it’s very demoralizing, but sometimes I do that.

[0:10:00]

NATALIA: And sometimes it works out. You know, write up a paragraph trying to get to the nugget of what is this interesting thing? Is it really interesting enough that I need to, like, get it out in the world? If I’ve gotten to that point there usually is a there there, and I can place it somewhere. And then I got from there, and hopefully I get a yes, and then I work on it with an editor. And it always takes more time than I thought it would. But I usually am happy for that. There are not a lot of times in the last couple years since I’ve made this decision to really be mindful about what I decide to take on or pursue that I’ve been sorry about that. And I think there – I’ve written two recent essays for the Atlantic–the one you mentioned, and one before that. And those to me have been examples of, like, the perfect kind of situation. There is something happening in the public discourse. My experience and expertise makes me uniquely qualified to comment on it in a way I don’t see showing up anywhere else, and that I feel like would enrich the larger conversation. And I get to do it in, quite honestly, like, a place…

[0:11:00]

NATALIA: …that I’ve always admired, that I’ve always wanted to publish. I mean, I really kind of (fangirl) the Atlantic. So to have an opportunity to write there, that’s a yes for me. So yeah, that is basically how I decide.

BOB: Where does the urge come from? Has it always been there in your career to – when you see an opportunity, you see that white space, you go, “I have something to contribute. I need to whip something up,” and then it takes a week or maybe more? But has the urge always been there or is it something that you needed to cultivate?

NATALIA: I’ve needed to cultivate how to do it, and how to make what to me feels like a perfectly legible mush in my brain, and to convert that into something that is perfectly, that has taken time to cultivate. Honestly I’ve never thought about this. But for as long as I can remember, since I was a kid coming up with, like, what should I write for my term paper, or for my assignment, I’ve had that feeling…

[0:12:00]

NATALIA: …of, like, I’ve got it. I must express this. And I guess that is, you know, sort of why I am suited to do this work as a writer and a podcaster, etc. I really like ideas. And I really like storytelling. And in my lifetime there have only been more avenues in which one can do that. And I am very much a beneficiary of this moment.

BOB: Other than opportunity – increased opportunity for you, what’s made it easier for you to make this translation from your expertise applied to an issue or problem in the moment that we’re seeing, and you make that unique intervention that makes other people go, “Ah-ha?” What’s made that easier for you?

NATALIA: Well, I think people talk a lot about a disconnect between the way scholars express themselves and the way that normal people who are not in academic context express themselves. And I have seen examples where that gap does indeed feel…

[0:13:00]

NATALIA: …if not uncrossable, very, very substantial. I pride myself that one thing I do pretty well is express complex ideas in accessible and I think exciting ways. And so that’s something that I – I guess I’ve worked on deliberately, but it’s also something that just kind of comes from what my interests are and the kind of media with which I engage. Yes, I read a ton of scholarly non-fiction and all kinds of geeky academic texts. But, like, I’ve always read popular magazines, and listened to pop music, and though I grew up (the children) of two academics who are definitely an example of people who have a very sort of internal disciplinary conversation, my husband is not in academia, and didn’t even study the humanities. So he has a very different background and way of speaking. And many of the people that I spend time with outside of my immediate colleagues are not in these fields. Yet I perhaps…

[0:14:00]

NATALIA: …am naïve to think, but I do think that the kind of stuff I study is interesting and it has relevance. And so I’ve always kind of been someone who’s passionate about not just teaching in this pedantic way, but engaging with people who are not just other scholars about ideas that I think would interest anyone who’s alive and a human in the 21st century and wants to know where we come from. So I guess I come by that work not just honestly, but it’s just kind of a part of who I am.

BOB: So there was a huge controversy this summer when two male historians went on an NPR talk show in Boston and quoted extensively from a forthcoming book by Sarah Milov, who’s a historian, about the history of cigarettes in the United States and the federal government’s role in promoting the sale of those. They did that, quoting from her book, without crediting her or mentioning the book. And then The Lily, which is a – that channel in the Washington Post…

[0:15:00]

BOB: …followed up with a piece documenting that for female historians, and historians of minoritized groups. This sort of thing happens all the time, and “this sort of thing” being media organizations drawing directly from their work but not giving them credit. And the upshot of the piece was that they just keep their heads down about it. Has this happened to you, first question; and then the second question is, are there lessons that other female scholars can learn from what you’ve been able to put together, your own platforms, your own interventions, in building their own interventions in media and their own platforms to feel more empowered?

NATALIA: Yeah, it’s a great question. And that whole scandal this summer was really heartbreaking for me. Because as someone who’s a historian in the history podcasting world, and a woman, I actually – I don’t know personally everybody that was involved in that, but I know – I know them, those – the guys and I know Sarah Milov…

[0:16:00]

NATALIA: …just through the field a little bit. And to me it seemed that the scandal over that absolutely pointed to all the dynamics that you’re saying of women and other minority groups, or even junior people, graduate students, etc., not having their work recognized, and then in very public ways in which they might have to gain for it, more senior people getting credit for those perspectives. That absolutely happens all the time. But I will say about that particular environment, that particular example, I thought about that very carefully, mostly because I know the kind of intellectual inclinations of the people on that show. And I thought, like, what was really going on here? And I thought it was an occasion to think of both the dynamics that we pointed out which absolutely were at play. There was no excuse for not crediting Dr. Milov for her work. But I also think to me it raised questions about this whole role of the public scholar you and I discussed today…

[0:17:00]

NATALIA: …where I have definitely been on TV shows or in other environments where they’ll ask me a question. And these tend to be for, like, highly-produced things, right, not necessarily, like, a 20-minute conversation, but something where there are going to be snippets. And I’ll say, “Well, as scholars so-and-so argued in their book,” and then the producer will say, “No, you’re the expert here,” like, “stop doing that,” basically stop citing. And actually as a woman in particular, I was not sure what the right lesson to take away from that was. Is it either, like, step into my own authority as a scholar and as an expert–I might’ve not done that original research, but I am an expert in U.S. history–or is the lesson something much more insidious, which is, oh, everyone’s doing it. We don’t – you know, if you want to, like, play with the big boys, basically, like, you don’t cite every person you’re drawing on. And that’s a real pressure that happens in these highly-produced contexts.

[0:18:00]

NATALIA: And so it just seemed to me – I’m not excusing those podcasters for not expressly crediting Sarah Milov’s book, but what I do think is important is to think about the larger pressures about being a public scholar. And we don’t really have norms right now for citation in podcasting, etc. So that’s one thing I want to say. Has that happened to me? Not in that sort of extreme way, in the example that you talked about. There however have been definitely articles that I have read, popular articles, where I am sure – I cannot prove it, but I am sure that the examples that they’re pulling from come from things that I’ve written and are uncredited. And I know that because it’s something where I will have written something in 2014, maybe in some more minor publication, and I quote, like, a primary source that, sure, other people could have seen it, but it was, like, in a box in some archive there. Like, I know nobody else has seen it recently. And then the exact analysis of that same primary source comes up in another article…

[0:19:00]

NATALIA: …somewhere three years later. To me, I can’t prove that, and I’m not going to cry about it so much, but it seems to me that that kind of thing happens a lot. So you asked me what are tips. I mean, I don’t know. I think – you know, I think, well, one thing to do is – one of the things that pushes me actually to pitch, as you were asking before, is I want to get my ideas out there with my name attached to them. Like, that actually is something. There recently–this was about something I published in the Washington Post–there was a whole conversation about physical education happening in the U.S. And I had done all this work on the decline in funding in P.E., which is going to be in my forthcoming book. I didn’t want someone else to go out and write a piece about the decline in funding in P.E. and the rise of the fitness industry before I did. I’m, like, I want my stake in the ground there. That was – so I pitched this editor at the Washington Post, and then I wrote it. And it’s not, like, the definitive work on it…

[0:20:00]

NATALIA: …but my name is attached to those ideas. And you can’t take that away from me now. And so that’s one thing that I think is useful, that instead of kind of sitting on your ideas, putting yourself out there and putting – attaching your name to these things is actually I think very good.

BOB: So your book, Fit Nation, subtitle “How America Embraced Exercise as the Government Abandoned It…” That’s still the subtitle, right?

NATALIA: It is, although I met with my editor today and who knows what it’ll ultimately be. But that’s still the idea, yeah.

BOB: And when is it going to be out?

NATALIA: Well, it should be out in 2021. I haven’t submitted the final manuscript yet, so… These are really tough questions. This is the hardest question you’ve asked me. [LAUGHTER]

BOB: But you’ve been writing about fitness for a while, and you’ve been talking about fitness for a while. So are you thinking about that book when you’re making these interventions? Are you thinking – do you have a plan in mind? Are you thinking about it as…

[0:21:00]

BOB: …”This is a big-idea book. I want to prepare the ground. I want to put my stake in the ground. I want to get my name out there as having some ownership of these ideas, and I want people to turn to me as a resource?”

NATALIA: For sure, definitely. And it’s actually a very interesting process for me right now. Because my first book, which was based on my dissertation, I did none of that. Like, I didn’t write one word in the popular media at all. And I only – and that came out in 2015. And that was in part because the landscape was very different and my positionality was different. I was a graduate student for most of that time. You know, Twitter didn’t really exist. There were blogs but it wasn’t the same kind of environment that we have today. And then after I wrote a few things, but it was very tail wagging the dog. And sort of, like, after this big work came out, now you can write some ancillary things to promote this thing you already worked on. So different.

[0:22:00]

NATALIA: Like, people are constantly surprised. They’re, like, “Wait, your book’s not out?” which of course is, like, a dagger in my heart. But it’s because – I’m, like, “I know. Stop saying that.” But it’s because I’ve been writing about this stuff for so long. And I think actually very differently with this project, what began as sort of, like, oh, there’s this interesting thing going on, like gym culture, this is problematic and interesting in ways other people have not experienced. And I started writing about it in shorter essays, honestly before I published anything scholarly about it. And out of that grew the idea for a book project. Out of the conversations that some of those pieces inspired my ideas for this book project got better. And then thirdly, out of that whole project also, like, I became established I guess as an expert in this field as well. And so there is a kind of, like, strategic, “Oh, get your name out there so you have a market and a platform. But when your book comes out…”

[0:23:00]

NATALIA: That’s I think the way this might end up working, but that’s not my thinking at all. For me it’s more like, one, basically I have ideas and I get really excited about them, and I can’t shut up about them. And now there are all these media in which I have a place to express them. But it’s also for me a desire to work out these ideas that–no pun intended–that will be part of this much larger project in a way where I’m lucky for my interlocutors to be much broader than just someone in a writing group who I’m working with to workshop a chapter. I have that, too, and I’m very grateful for that. But I find this, like, a very exciting way to be developing a project as well.

BOB: You are also a cohost of a very long-running podcast called “Past Present.”

NATALIA: Yeah.

BOB: Over four years I think, right? More than 200 episodes, yeah.

NATALIA: Yeah. We just recorded episode 204, so do the math. It’s about – yeah, that’s right, it’s four years.

BOB: First of all, for people…

[0:24:00]

BOB: …who haven’t heard it, what is the podcast and why did you help start it? Yeah.

NATALIA: Yeah, it’s called “Past Present.” You can download it on Spotify or on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And I started it with my two cohosts, two historians, Neil J. Young and Nicole Hemmer. And it was really their idea; they invited me on. I had never listened to a podcast four years ago, but I respected them enormously as intellectuals, as scholars, and as people who like me are passionate about history communication to a larger public. And so they came to me and they said, “We want to start a podcast and we think three people is perfect for conversational style, and we want you to be part of it.” And I basically was, like, “That sounds amazing, sign me up. What’s a podcast?” was really the way it happened. But I knew these were people… Two things – three things excited me. One, these were people who I respected enormously and I liked a lot, and so the idea of doing an ongoing project with them was exciting.

[0:25:00]

NATALIA: Two, I just love new forms of history communication. And so I thought, well, I know podcasts – I knew enough to know podcasting is this new thing; I want to get involved. What a cool way to do that. And then, three, the center of my professional commitments really are as a writer. And I have a limited bandwidth to be able to write. I don’t write very quickly, but it’s enormously important to me, and that’s kind of what I do. So I was, like, huh, a project where I can be doing this stuff that is meaningful to me with cool, interesting, and brilliant people that’s not a writing project? Because I can’t – I know myself–I can’t devote to, like, a regular writing thing that’s extra or I’ll never end up writing my book, or writing the articles I have to write. That sounds exciting. So it kind of checked all those boxes. And, you know, four years later I’m actually in this studio because the three of us are working on a new podcast, which I can’t talk about yet, but it’s coming in a few months.

[0:26:00]

BOB: Congratulations. So on this podcast, Past Present, typical format is you deal with three things that have just happened, or happened in the last week or couple of weeks. And the range is quite wide, right, for the… I listened to one that you talked about Donald Trump getting booed at the World Series, the assassination or death after raid of the Isis leader, and I can’t remember what the middle one was.

NATALIA: I don’t remember that one either. But they tend to be, like, a cultural topic, a political topic, and something else.

BOB: How do you prepare for that? And the context of that question is lots and lots of researchers are really reluctant to talk about stuff, not just that’s outside of their niche, but even stuff that they haven’t written about themselves. So how do you prepare for it and feel comfortable…

[0:27:00]

BOB: …about opining at length on these disparate topics every week?

NATALIA: Great question. So at the end of the day it is all U.S.-focused news, okay? So, like, all of us have PhDs in U.S. history. All of us have experience writing for the general public about broader themes in American culture and politics. So there is that foundation. You would not find us writing about ancient Egypt or – talking about ancient Egypt or Greek politics if – unless it’s about some U.S. foreign policy move. Like, we really in that sense know our bounds in a way. And even within the U.S.–my brother is always bothering me to do more music topics, but none of us are either real big music-lovers or connoisseurs, or certainly scholarly experts. So with music topics we really only do them when it’s, like, the thing everyone’s talking about, and when we can tie it into something that we do know something about. For example, we covered R. Kelly…

[0:28:00]

NATALIA: …which was a music topic, but that’s a topic where the issues over R. Kelly were about sexuality, and gender, and race, and all these other things that we do know a lot about. So there’s that kind of bounding of something that I know seems very wide-ranging. And we also try to be very humble in the way that we frame the things that we know less about, and to do even more research on those things. So I’ll give you an example. When you say, “How do you do research?” well, we pick our topics, we try to make it, like, the pressing headline item, and then two others that are maybe a little off the beaten path. One of us – this – right now my cohost, Nicky, she gathers about six articles on each topic. Sometimes a scholarly article, but more likely, like, lengthy, smart prose. Like, the New Yorker, or the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, also, like, American Conservative, National Review. Like, we try to really (view) broadly. And then this I think is what we have found from listeners makes a difference, particularly on the topics in which – which are about…

[0:29:00]

NATALIA: …some issue that we’re not intimately involved in. We go kind of deep on, like, the niche blogosphere of these topics. One that comes to mind is we did this rather bizarre segment a while ago about the fact that apparently Alt-Right white men have an Asian fetish. So it’s, like, a thing among white men in the Alt-Right to date and marry Asian women. We were, like, very interested in this, but also pretty aware of some of the limits of our personal experience on this issue. So we ended up, like, reading so many pieces from Asian-American blogs. There’s, like, a whole subculture about, like, Asian-American masculinity. We read all of this stuff. We had a conversation where we both acknowledged our humility but made clear the work we’d done. We actually–not to be too self-congratulatory–but we got messages from, like, Asian-American men and scholars of Asian-American culture, complimenting on what they said was…

[0:30:00]

NATALIA: …a deeper conversation than was happening in some of the media they consumed, which was directed by and created by their community. I’m not saying a bunch of people outside the community, like, can ever do it better than anyone internal or that has that direct-lived experience. But what I am saying is that if you really do your research and are appropriately humble, you know, in this field that we’re in, where we went to school for seven years apiece learning to be researchers, and to comment and opine on American culture and politics, it’s not crazy that we should be able to come up with something of value if we do our homework. And I think sometimes unfortunately we are taught to – as scholars that, like, you should never open your mouth unless you have something with, like, 60 original footnotes attached to it. And while I’m all about citation, and I think the broader culture should, like, do a lot more research before they open their mouth, I think there’s almost, like, an opposing problem among some scholars who are taught to be so reticent and not…

[0:31:00]

NATALIA: …to weigh in on pressing questions if they haven’t done that work.

BOB: So last question; I know you have to go. How can institutions incentivize more public scholarship? How can academic institutions incentivize more public scholarship?

NATALIA: Well, I mean, the answer that people would give 5 to 10 years ago is make it count for tenure. And that’s something that I still think is important. However as tenure-track jobs are disappearing I’m beginning to think that that’s not such an important part of the equation anymore, although I still think it should definitely happen. But actually–and it’s something we talk about at our institution, too–I think that graduate programs, which have traditionally been geared to prepare people for tenure-track jobs as professors, as those jobs are disappearing I think something that’s really important is teaching graduate students those same vaunted research skills that they always have, but much more deliberately…

[0:32:00]

NATALIA: …doing so with a mind toward how those skills might be translated into more public-facing jobs. I’m not the first person to say this. But those are jobs in journalism… We could do with a lot more journalists with history degrees, advanced degrees–museums, public schools, like, all of these institutions. I honestly think corporations. How many idiotic, historically-amnesic ad campaigns have you seen where you think, “If they just had a historian on staff would they really, like, be in – would Nike invoke the lost cause in their trail-running ads?” Like, no, you know? And I don’t mean that in the corporate examples (the) historian is kind of, like, base-covering, liability-protector type of role. But actually I think so many fields could do well to have somebody with this skillset on board. And so I think journalism and education are probably the biggest fields where that could stand to happen. But I think that that’s what we need to think about…

[0:33:00]

NATALIA: …in higher education. Yes, both acknowledging and rewarding this work for people on the tenure track, but also thinking about those training programs as training people to do more than jump on the tenure track, which is a diminishing path sadly.

BOB: Hey Natalia, wonderful to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time.