What are Office Hours?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Peaceful Science hosts discussions with leading scholars in science, theology, philosophy, and exegesis. Conversations here are announced ahead of time, and will take place over defined periods of time, just like office hours. Learn how to organize one here: Organizing Office Hours.

Why Office Hours?

This has been a successful model. It can increasing public engagement with the academic’s work, enrich conversations in the forum as a whole, and even create citeable artifacts (Peaceful Science DOI on Zenodo). Limiting and focusing conversation to a manageable and meaningful conversation, many scholars have been able to add quite a bit to the conversation with only minimal effort on their part.

Good examples of Office Hours are visible here:

  1. Ken Keathley: Notes from Dabar and a Baptist's Hope
  2. Winston Ewert: The Dependency Graph of Life
  3. Greg Cootsona: "Mere Science" and Adam's Empty Chair

Usually, we will follow the protocol explained here: Organizing Office Hours. However, in some cases conversations arise opportunistically or are predetermined to last much longer.

To Scholarly Guests

While this is public engagement, sometimes the conversations will include deep dives in to technical details. That is a good thing, as the written exchange can accomplish quite a bit in a short amount of time. In this way, scholars should find themselves at home. Just answer the questions as you would in an email, keeping in mind that the whole conversation is public of course.

A couple practical guidlines:

  1. Create your user ID prior to the start of Office Hours. There is a first day limit of 10 posts, that can be avoided if the user ID made earlier.

  2. Do not engage with disruptive people. They will be moved out of the thread. Communicate any issues that arise to the @moderators.

  3. You own the thread, so feel free to direct it to topics you care about, and to engage people as you see fit. We have you for a short time, so please point us to the most helpful work you’ve done. If you have a final contribution after thread closes too, we can open for you to make a final post.

  4. Only answer questions in the main office hours thread assigned to you, unless you want to do more. You do not have to engage anything else unless it would be helpful.

  5. Let us know when you want to come back. Perhaps when you write your next book, we will have you back to discuss it. Whenever milestones like this come up, let us know. We want to engage with you.

To Forum Participants

Office Hours are all tightly moderated. Any disruptive or distracting posts will be moved to a side comments threads. Any disrespectful or abusive behavior will more quickly result in a suspension. The rules are different here.

  1. Remember it is a privilege to engage directly with scholars. Even if you disagree with them on a key issue, this is a rare moment to hear unfiltered from them. Their opinion matters, so do not distract from this. If in doubt, start with the side comments thread first, engaging with others about the main conversation.

  2. Do not protest if your posts are moved to side comments. None of this is personal. @moderators are just working to make this as effective a conversation as a possible. It is a good thing that OH are spawning longer term engagement.

  3. In this category, keep focus on the guests. We may only have them here for a short period of time. Treat them well, and they might stay a while.

  4. Please suggest scholars to invite to hold office hours by messaging @moderators. Send the scholars name, contact info, your willingness to reach out to him/her, and why you think he or she would be valuable to include. Please look over the steps involved here, so you can help things along: Organizing Office Hours.

  5. Self nominations welcome. If you are a scholar or author and want to be the focus of office hours here, message @moderators with an explanation of what you’d like to discuss and information about who you are.

Office hours are a very unique opportunity to engage with leading scholars about questions of central concern to all of us. Look forward to the exchange!

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