The paper explores some possible meanings of public scholarship within the context of globalizing higher education. The paper opens with a suggestion and a debate – the suggestion is Robert Boyer’s paradigm of scholarship that differentiates, but integrates the four scholarships of discovery, integration of knowledge, teaching and service (1990). The public sociology debate, which identifies themes and dilemmas that can be generalised to public scholarship in any discipline, such as the tensions between scientific rigour and public relevance; the value of independent conscience and the limits to intellectual autonomy, and the place of critique and non-instrumental knowledge. The meanings of ‘publicness’ are initially opened out in relation to three themes: public accountability, the public sphere, and public goods. The paper advances a critique of public accountability as it is currently understood in the context of Irish and global HE. It contrasts the instrumental governmentality of the current efforts to make scholarship accountable against a more nuanced interpretation of accountability that enriches the very publicness of the public sphere through the cultivation of civic virtue and active participation that involves genuine controversy and spirited debate. This suggests an alternative conception of global HE as a democratic-deliberative public sphere and the discussion asks whether Irish HEIs are up to this challenge. Next, a new global public goods approach is proposed (e.g. Kaul et al, 2001), as a substantive underpinning for the conception of public scholarship. Public scholarship means that the ‘goods’ produced by the scholarship should be public in benefits (inclusive), public in decision making (participatory) and public in consumption (fair and just). In conclusion, the paper considers particular methodologies such as participatory action research and particular public goods, such as health and suggests that that the critical engagement with human rights presents fruitful ways forward for public scholarship.