College Empowers Public Thought Leaders

The College of Charleston is empowering public thought leaders by encouraging faculty members to participate in the OpEd Project, a national program that helps women to use their expertise to change public discourse through opinion writing. Since the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Office of Academic Affairs launched this project in May, participants from the College of Charleston have published six op-eds with more expected in the coming months.

“Women are experts, and our voices need to be part of broader cultural conversations particularly in South Carolina,” says Alison Piepmeier, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. “College of Charleston faculty members do important work in many fields, yet we are not trained in translating the results of our specialized research for a mainstream audience. By working with the OpEd project, we are hoping to change that.”

Men compose 87 percent of Wikipedia editors, 84 percent of pundits on Sunday morning talk shows and 80 to 90 percent of contributors to newspaper opinion pieces, according to the OpEd Project’s website. Piepmeier says the problem is that women are less likely to contribute to these opinion-based news sources.

In May 2011, when the College of Charleston joined the Op-Ed Project, founder Katie Orenstein came to campus to provide a full-day intensive workshop for 20 College of Charleston faculty, staff, and administrators. Due to the success of the College of Charleston in participation and placements, two OpEd Project trainers, Katherine Lanpher and Kelly Nuxoll, came to campus in November and provided two days of training. Feedback from participants was surprisingly enthusiastic. One participant said, “I haven’t stopped talking about it since we finished, and I think it will not only enhance the effectiveness and direction of my writing, but also the way that I teach students to write. It was one of the most worthwhile professional experiences I’ve had here at the College.”

More information about the Op-Ed Project.

For more information about the College of Charleston’s participation in the Op-Ed Project, contact  Alison Piepmeier at 843.953.2280 or piepmeiera@cofc.edu.