By Annie Bang
This article was originally published by USC Dornsife.
With topics ranging from religion to Botox, readers from around the globe have read the works of Trojan scholars through The Conversation. This summer, scholars from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences marked an exceptional milestone, exceeding a whopping 10 million reads.
“The numbers confirm that people want to hear from experts about research breakthroughs and cutting-edge ideas as long as they are framed in an accessible way,” said USC Dornsife Dean Amber D. Miller. “This milestone is an endorsement of our concerted efforts to bring academic expertise into the public square — to inform, enlighten, and help shape the future.”
The Conversation is a nonprofit, independent news outlet with contributors from the academic and research community. All the articles published online are also distributed to media outlets around the world through the Associated Press.
The most read story, “Far from being anti-religious, faith and spirituality run deep in Black Lives Matter,” published Sept. 14, 2020, has amassed nearly 900,000 reads.
Hebah Farrag, assistant director of research at USC Dornsife’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, collaborated on the piece with Ann Gleig of the University of Central Florida.
“At the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, we really value media partners like The Conversation, who help us translate and demystify research on religion and civic life to the public square, something we see as an essential part of our mission,” Farrag said.
USC Dornsife scholars have been contributing to the publication since 2011, with the first article by David Neal, formerly an assistant professor of psychology at USC Dornsife. “I (don’t) feel your pain: does Botox put the brakes on empathy?” highlighted the fascinating psychological impacts facial injections had on one’s interpretation of emotions.
Other prolific contributors to The Conversation include Jeffrey Fields of international relations, historian Peter Mancall, economist Matthew Kahn and Richard Flory of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, each of whom has contributed nine or more articles.
“The Conversation is a natural fit for academics looking to share their expertise and the work they’ve done through a credible media outlet,” said Mancall, professor of history, anthropology and economics and divisional dean for the social sciences.
Stories have been republished in more than 420 media outlets, including CNN, PBS, Scientific American and The Washington Post, and reached audiences in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.
On Oct. 23, the Los Angeles Times for the first time republished a story from The Conversation, choosing to feature a USC Dornsife scholar’s article. “Halloween’s celebration of mingling with the dead has roots in ancient Celtic celebrations of Samhain” by Tok Thompson, professor (teaching) of anthropology, appeared in their Sunday print edition.
Several articles have been translated from English to Spanish, French and Indonesian. Among them, the third most read story by a USC Dornsife scholar, Dean’s Professor or Religion Lisa Bitel’s piece exposing the “real” St. Valentine. The story, originally published in February 2018, garnered a few thousand more reads after translation into Indonesian in 2021, bringing the article’s total readership to more than 572,000.