With a great sense of personal happiness and professional comraderie, I write this inaugural blog post as your H-Net President for 2015. Throughout the coming year, I will offer my perspectives on how the many different initiatives undertaken by the H-Net Council impact our H-Net networks and the larger community of scholarly organizations. Since this is a blog embedded within the H-Net Council's network, I hope that these entries will be helpful in summarizing the Council's work and can offer a place for a healthy exchange of ideas.
In my work both in and out of the boardroom, I do not veer from what Susan Scott calls "fierce conversations" -- challenging my colleagues, and students too, to explore those things that often they fear to say in the face of power. As scholars, we bring a strong passion to our research and to our classrooms. This same passion is crucial for H-Net's success, both now and in the future. The H-Net bylaws and guidelines center on and require an active user community that develops meaningful conversations in the midst of dissenting voices. Some may fear that the Internet has spawned a new age of incivility, but even if this is true, we here at H-Net are best able to hone the art and craft of a sustained scholarly discussion online.
What works in face-to-face settings works online. For example, when a passionate debate in your classroom or during a conference presentation changes into a personal diatribe against a fellow scholar, we know that this is an aberrant change in the focus of debate and not to be tolerated in any reasonable understanding of professional standards. Yes, when passions are high, feelings can be hurt and well-meaning people feel frustrated or misunderstood. This is when we must face up to the challenge of a "radical transparency" in our scholarship and collegiality, re-focusing the conversation while still keeping it "fierce:" interrogating a particular perception, provoking ourselves and others to learn, resolving tough challenges, and enriching relationships. This happens in our H-Net networks too. Together we can offer ever expanding places for small group discussions. It is just a matter of our own creative talent for designing and supporting those spaces.
In the coming months, you will hear of great innovations undertaken by the H-Net Vice Presidents (Robert Cassenello, Patrick Cox, Monika Lehner) and supported by the H-Net Executive Director, Peter Knupfer, and his staff located at Michigan State University. Our new Associate Directors, Yelena Kalinski and Jesse Draper, are working with our H-Net VPs directly to improve communications among editors and finding new ways for editors to work together across networks. We've had a LinkedIn page for some years now, but have you seen our @HNet_Humanities and @HNet_Reviews Twitter feeds and our Facebook page? The H-Net Council has begun to update and reshape the H-Net Strategic Plan and to support the crafting of new online communities and partnerships. There is much happening and I plan to share this in a meaningful way with you all.
I look forward to our continued conversations - keeping it real.