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Doctors outwith borders: Reflections on academic activism and influence

Graham H (2017) Doctors outwith borders: Reflections on academic activism and influence, University of Glasgow Sociology blog, 24/07/2017. University of Glasgow. Available at:

This is a subjective, reflexive piece on academic activism and influence. It harnesses personal reflections to identify issues and opportunities involved in engaging with others in pursuit of change. In some but not all cases, our work as criminologists and sociologists and, indeed, our lives can be enriched by participatory public engagement, including in social movements. Excellence in published criminology and sociology can be nourished and reciprocally influenced by a calibre of public criminology and sociology, knowing and being known by diverse citizens, publics and parliaments, working to build better futures and more just and civil societies, together. Yet, sometimes our moral and political convictions and participation in social movements may or may not have direct links with our research, academic CV, institutional affiliation, or disciplinary field. Sometimes they amalgamate facets of our lives and intellectual commitments in hyphenated or hybridised ways. Ethical and, indeed, effectual academic activism and influence is prudently anchored in academic citizenship and service, in a civic commitment to justice and human flourishing. For criminologists, this means a commitment that may transcend a narrow focus on criminal justice. Academic citizenship is an important opportunity to listen, learn and lead. Meaningful influence rarely abides in esoteric echo chambers. Insularity, indifference or inaction are not desirable outworkings of sociological and criminological imaginations, nor are they noble uses of academic freedom, time, voice, capital or power. For me, citizenship and a civic commitment to justice looks like something. 

academic activism; academic citizenship; reflexivity; public criminology; public sociology; public intellectuals; social justice; public engagement; community engagement; knowledge exchange; applied social science; social movements; politics; media; disciplinarity.

AuthorsGraham Hannah
Publication date24/07/2017
Date of public distribution24/07/2017
PublisherUniversity of Glasgow
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