Question #4: Community-University Partnerships

How can faculty effectively engage with grassroots and other community groups without overwhelming themselves or their community partners (in community-service learning projects, for example)?

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One thought on “Question #4: Community-University Partnerships

  1. The Integrated Life
    Engaged scholarship is serious work, and it is well known among the faculty scholars who engage with community that building an effective partnership takes time and personal involvement. Thus, the question of managing one’s time so as not to be overwhelmed is pertinent to all who are contemplating a career in engagement. In my experience the most successful faculty have been those who have managed to integrate their engagement across the normal triad of teaching, research, and service that continue to define faculty roles at most universities.
    Consider the following examples of faculty who have accomplished this integration successfully.
    • The English as a second language professor who developed and published a curricular model on using learners’ life stories to create modules for learning English while working with community partners to support an organization that provides opportunities for undergraduates in community service learning courses to engage with ESL learners.
    • The computer science professor who conducted funded research on how a state organization could best promote employee retraining in small and minority owned businesses while directing student projects on creating an online system for small businesses to sell their wares while working with civic agency partners to encourage subcontracting of government contracts to locally-owned small businesses.
    • The Asian-American studies professor who connects students to the issues and experiences of underrepresented and underserved Southeast Asian American communities through field trips and walking tours in historic neighborhoods while publishing articles on peace and healing” in Vietnam War refugee communities while serving as a board member of multiple Asian American community organizations.
    In each of these cases the faculty members work involved community-based teaching, research, and service and their community partners became co-producers of knowledge, pedagogy, and organizational structures. After years of serving in these capacities it became difficult to distinguish where one category ended and another began much in the same way that Ernest Boyer wrote about in his seminal work on engaged scholarship (The Scholarship of Engagement, Journal of Public Outreach, 1,1, 11-20, 1996).
    Any young faculty member contemplating a career in this domain would be well served by viewing the Webinar recently held by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) in which three former winners of the Ernest A. Lynton Award for Scholarship of Engagement of Early Career Faculty discuss how they integrated their professional lives. These are stellar examples of junior faculty who are devoted to engaged scholarship and have integrated their passion into their faculty roles. A recording of the Webinar can be found at: http://www.nerche.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=848&Itemid=148

    Submitted by,

    Gerald Eisman,
    Director, School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement
    San Francisco State University
    geisman@sfsu.edu

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