By SHANNON O. WELLS
The Faculty Affairs Committee agreed at its April 28 meeting to introduce a newly worded memo outlining how to implement community-engaged scholarships in promotion and tenure decisions.
The document, which allows individual schools to implement according to their individual needs and standards, will go through the shared governance process en route to the Faculty Assembly meeting on May 11.
The document defines community scholarship (CES) as activities that “generate, exchange, or collaboratively apply academic and community knowledge and practice through reciprocal partnerships among university members” and the general public.
Approaches include community-based participatory research, engaged action research, and research-practice partnerships which, according to the paper, result in knowledge sharing through academic publications, policy recommendations, technical reports, exhibitions and joint projects that “benefit the community and the university”. ”
John Wallace, vice provost for diversity and faculty development, said Pitt‘As current tenure promotion policies often fail to recognize the scholarly aspect of this work, the memo initiated by the provost and formulated by the subcommittee provides guidelines and encouragement to individual academic units to that they recognize work as scholarship.
“We have more and more professors doing this kind of work,” Wallace said of CES. “And the challenge is often (that he‘s) not recognized as a scholarship (and) often ends up in a service box, when in fact it is a legitimate scholarship, including my own work, which was funded by the federal government (National Institutes of Health).
Provost Ann Cudd will review and forward the memo to the Council of Deans, allowing each school to determine which guidelines work best within the parameters of their department and scholarship.
As defined by the Provost’s Advisory Sub-Committee, CES:
Requires meaningful, trusting and lasting partnerships, which take time and skill to develop.
Must be mutual and reciprocal in benefits and responsibilities. Efforts by community-engaged researchers to ensure that benefits are equitably distributed among community partners and scholars take time and skill and result in products that are useful to the community partner and the community.
Requires a holistic perspective and examination. Community-engaged scholarship most often occurs in the context of a project that may have multiple processes, partnerships, products, and impacts.
Has an impact within and beyond the academy, with community impacts that are tangible, applied, and can occur at various scales: neighborhood, locality, region, nation, world, community of interest, or shared identity or experience .
Presents itself as a form of rigorous scholarship and takes many forms. CES differs across disciplines and spaces and involves diverse knowledge, traditions, partners, sources of accountability, funding, and forms of dissemination.
Call for Community Involved Scholarship “important part of the University’s mission,” Wallace said, the committee’s efforts ultimately result “in the provost’s memo with the aspiration (that) schools and individual departments will use it to inform their own processes. .
What Wallace called a “A committee of fairly large faculty – including those hiring CES – researched existing policies in the United States as well as some international colleges and universities to identify how these schools incorporate this scholarship into tenure and promotion policies. The document that the Faculty Affairs Committee approved on Thursday is the result of a provost’s subcommittee‘s work throughout the last few months.
“I think we’ve come up with a really good document,” Senate Speaker Robin Kear said, asking his peers on the committee to “look at it from two angles… from someone who might review this kind of work, what they would need to know.
“But we also tried to write it so that the people doing the work would understand what would be valued or understand what could potentially be valued,” Kear added. “And also to consider these documents as academic recommendations in the field of peer review, which go to our shared governance, and then will go through recommendations.
The document requires academic units to develop policies to integrate SEC into tenure and promotion with the following actions:
Revise promotion and tenure guidelines to demonstrate that CES is valued commensurately with other forms of scholarship at Pitt.
Revise promotion and tenure guidelines to recognize that it takes time and resources to appropriately build partnerships and conduct impactful and community-engaged research.
Develop guidelines to clarify that the rigor and quality of CES depends on mutual benefit, sustainability and impact within and beyond the academy.
Create a holistic review system for CES projects so that the various processes and products that a project generates can be understood in relation to each other and to the project‘s overall social and academic impacts.
Make sure that at least some external letter writers or external examiners for professors doing CES are community-engaged scholars themselves.
Shannon Wells is a staff writer for the University Times. Join it at email@example.com.
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