The Public Professor

How to Use Your Research to Change the World

256 pages

39 advice boxes

January, 2016

ISBN: 9781479861392



Also available in


M. V. Lee Badgett is Professor of Economics and director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and also serves as research director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law. She is the author of Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men and co-editor of Sexual Orientation Discrimination: An International Perspective.

All books by M. V. Lee Badgett

The work of academics can matter and be influential on a public level, but the path to becoming a public intellectual, influential policy advisor, valued community resource or go-to person on an issue is not one that most scholars are trained for. The Public Professor offers scholars ways to use their ideas, research and knowledge to change the world. The book gives practical strategies for scholars to become more engaged with the public on a variety of fronts: online, in print, at council hearings, even with national legislation. 
Lee Badgett, a veteran policy analyst and public intellectual with over 25 years of experience connecting cutting edge research with policymakers and the public, offers clear and practical advice to scholars looking to engage with the world outside of academia. She shows scholars how to see the big picture, master communicating with new audiences, and build strategic professional networks. 
Learn how to find and develop relationships with the people who can take your research and ideas into places scholars rarely go, and who can get you into Congressional hearings, on NPR, or into the pages of The New York Times. Turn your knowledge into clear and compelling messages to use in interviews, blog posts, tweets and op-eds. Written for both new and experienced scholars and drawing on examples and advice from the lives of influential academics, the book provides the skills, resources, and tools to put ideas into action.


  • “Researchers who want to reach beyond the academy rightly worry about how to maintain scholarly integrity while streamlining their message and accommodating the time constraints of journalists or policy makers. M.V. Lee Badgett gives concrete examples and advice that can help you do both. Whether you want to advocate for a specific policy or simply get your research findings out to a wider audience, this book is a great way to get started.”

    —Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap

  • “Professor Badgett has a quarter century of experience successfully conveying results of scholarly research to policy makers and the public. She has written an important book which provides valuable advice for anyone who wants to improve their ability to use their research and knowledge to create compelling public messages.”

    —David Boies, co-author of Redeeming the Dream: Proposition 8 and the Struggle for Marriage Equality

  • “Social change movements need scholars to contribute their ideas and research, and this book will show them how to do it. With great examples and understandable steps, Badgett’s book provides the ‘how-to’—it gives academics the tools to present their research in meaningful and relevant ways.”

    —Chad Griffin, President, The Human Rights Campaign

  • “From one of the foremost publicly engaged scholars in the country, this brilliant and groundbreaking primer for academics interested in applying their expertise in the policy realm is also a deeply useful manual for all policy advocates. Combining astute power analysis of how policy is made with strategic communications advice, stories of real-life experience with an accessible and clear style, Lee Badgett has created an essential training tool for every academic, graduate student, law student and advocate interested in informing public policy debates.”

    —Urvashi Vaid, author of Irresistible Revolution

  • "Badgett provides cogent advice and time-tested guidelines for scholars interested in expanding their research results beyond accessible and thought-provoking primer."

    Library Journal

  • "The Public Professor has much to offer by exploring what is possible for those who want to change the world."


  • "In addressing three main themes of seeing the bigger picture, networking effectively and communicating outside the academy, Badgett draws widely on the experiences of other engaged academics, providing a clear philosophical basis for her arguments and offering a wealth of worthwhile and practical suggestions."

    Times Higher Education

  • “This relatively short book shows one way in which academics can justify our privileged position and enhance the quality of research and teaching in the process. The Public Professor should be required reading.”

    Times Higher Education