Interdisciplinary though it may be, the field of language policy studies has developed haphazardly as scholars in (Socio-)Linguistics, (Social-)Psychology, Sociology, Political Science and even Economics approached it, like the blind men the proverbial elephant, from at least five different academic perspectives. Genuine cross-disciplinary understanding remains foggy and undervalued. Attempts to generalize in any one area (status/policy studies, creolization, compensatory education, etc.) typically gloss over important issues considered crucial by other subdisciplines. Many case studies document particular issues in particular societies, but few compare cross-cultural problems or theorize broadly enough--theoretical frameworks tend merely to be appended to purely linguistic or political-science or sociological models, rather than cross-disciplinarily integrated with them.
Furthermore, issues of language `rights', guaranteed nowhere in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights, are prey to minimization or misinterpretation by nativists and pro-English activists, such as those now advocating a constitutional amendment to further institutionalize English preeminence. When language policy issues (e.g. merits of bilingual schooling, position of Black English) have reached the public discussion level they have tended to be fraught with high emotion and low intellectual content (most recently evident in the furor over the decision by the Oakland Board of Education regarding Ebonics); linguists called in to testify in court cases ( Ann Arbor decision , Lau decision) have little credibility among the public, especially when confronting nativist demands. Public policy discussions of linguistic strife in, e.g. Canada, India or Belgium always raise the object lesson of their `destructive' or `separatist' outcomes, but demands of linguistic minorities in areas such as Chechnya (in the former Soviet Union) and Bosnia or Kosovo (in the former Yugoslavia) are championed as valid attempts to resist or overthrow oppressive structures, or at least were until they themselves were forced to deal with their own separatist movements. But such scepticism and even hostility to academic contributions voiced in the public arena point not to the need to abandon such contributions but the need to underpin them with more concerted and systematic research, and to infuse the public debate with an understanding of the process of language policy formation, which in our understanding of it, requires more public participation and discussion, which we intend to provide by our educational mission to educators, legislators, journalists and others.