NRL News

If you had only one minute…..

by | Feb 14, 2014

By Dave Andrusko

We are approaching the end of the week which got me to thinking about a article I once read at Inside Higher Education headlined “Snapshot Dissertation.” I had an intuition what the subject matter might be about and sure enough so it was. In six paragraphs, or fewer, I hope to show you why it speaks to us, and make a request.
Valentines Graphic
Duke University has what reporter Colleen Flaherty describes as an initiative to “forge connections between academics and other community members.” It’s called Scholars and Publics and the hope (as I understand it) is to find a common language by which the scholarly community and the rest of us can “talk.” It’s starting in the sciences, but the intent is to spread across all disciplines.

One component is for graduate students to be able to encapsulate their dissertations in a 30-60-second video. I don’t think this is a variation of the idea that if you can’t explain something orally, you don’t really understand it, although it could be. The objective, we read. is to “teach [students] to imagine explaining what they’re learning to their parents or grandparents,” according to Huntington Willard, director of Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, in an e-mail interview with Flaherty.

The application to us is obvious, is it not? We can explain the case for life at an academic level only other professors of philosophers can grasp. Or we can make our argument in language that is pure emotion. Or we can use pro-life “jargon” whose meaning is self-evident (to us) but leaves those outside the “community” scratching their heads.

Videos is a bit much, wouldn’t you say? So what I am asking is for our readers to write down the equivalent of what could be said out loud in a one or two minutes. What would you say to someone who is not hostile or belligerent (that’s a whole other topic) but simply has never engaged the abortion directly?

Many of you may have already done so—had conversations with the “mushy middle—but most may not have. But what would you say?

What do you think you could offer in such a limited time span that might get the person thinking about the core issues?

I could offer categories, but that would defeat the whole purpose. I’d like to read what YOU would say—or have said—that could gently pry open a mind that is stuck.

Send your thoughts to me at

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