I’m a freelance writer and editor, primarily for faculty and university clients. My own scholarly background is in literature, history, and philosophy. One of my major clients is Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF), which promotes multidisciplinary research on energy, the environment, and economic development.
The most important part of my job as ACSF’s science writer/editor is to help scientists and social scientists create messages about their cutting-edge, often big-dollar sustainability research that resonate with all kinds of people. Scholars are comfortable writing grant proposals and describing their research for other specialists, yet they often have trouble reaching out in uncomplicated but still fundamentally accurate language to broader audiences.
The right kind of communication pitched at the right level can serve as a bridge between emerging innovations and the people the research may benefit. It can spark the imagination and even convince ardent opponents of certain kinds of innovation—like fracking—to give what they think they know a second look. So I think this is valuable work. It requires the ability to read and understand at a high level, a broad perspective, good judgment, and a proclivity for the fundamental principles—not the details, but the one or two true things that can reach people—all skills honed by the humanities.