Public scholarship-linking weed science with public work

Nicholas Jordan, Jeffrey Gunsolus, Roger Becker, Susan White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Weed scientists face complex and difficult challenges. Within our discipline, we must increase the sustainability of current weed management approaches and help respond to invasive plants as a component of global change. There also are major challenges that we share with other agricultural disciplines, such as mounting comprehensive efforts to address the problems of current agriculture. We believe that any effective response to these challenges will require public work, i.e., projects in which a diverse group of people work together-across lines of difference (professional, cultural, etc.)-to produce broad-based, systemic innovations that meet complex challenges. We propose that weed scientists should join relevant public-work projects by practicing "public scholarship." We define public scholarship as original, creative, peer-evaluated intellectual work that is fully integrated in a public-work project. By full integration we mean that the scholar's work serves to fuel the social (i.e., collective) learning of the public-work group. This condition requires that the scholar be a full participant in the group rather than just being in a consultative or advisory role. We present several case studies of weed scientists practicing public scholarship. These scientists found this mode of scholarship to be a highly effective means by which to address their professional priorities. Barriers to the practice of public scholarship include the lack of relevant guidelines and norms within academic culture, e.g., with regard to quality-assurance standards. But public scholarship offers weed scientists a new way of responding to increasingly urgent demands to show that our work effectively produces public value in return for public investment. We believe that graduate programs in weed science should begin to offer students opportunities to learn skills that are relevant to public scholarship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-554
Number of pages8
JournalWeed Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002


  • Civic science
  • Integrated weed management
  • Public science
  • Social learning
  • Sustainability science


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