Scholarship of engagement and cultural challenges within an academic context
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Scholarship of Engagement and Cultural Challenges Within an Academic Context. North Carolina State University Task Force on the Scholarship of Engagement. Agenda. Mandate of Task Force Dr. Pat Sobrero, Associate Vice Chancellor, Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development

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Scholarship of Engagement and Cultural Challenges Within an Academic Context

North Carolina State University

Task Force on the

Scholarship of Engagement


  • Mandate of Task Force

    • Dr. Pat Sobrero, Associate Vice Chancellor, Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development

  • Historical Context and University Values

    • Dr. Ellis Cowling, University Distinguished Professor At-Large Emeritus

  • Task Force Process and Recommendation

    • Dr. Joan Pennell, Professor and Director, Center for Family & Community Engagement

  • Discussion

Engagement Movement

  • 1995 Dillman Study

  • 1999 W. K. Kellogg Commission

    • Engaged University

    • Envisioned reciprocal partnerships that were defined by mutual respect and mutual learning among collaborating partners.

    • Seven Part Test

Engagement Movement

  • 1995 North Carolina Progress Board

  • 1999 - “Commission of the Future of NC State”

  • 2000 - Six Realms – Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure

  • 2001 – Vice Chancellor for Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development

Engagement Movement

  • 2006 – Carnegie Classification for both “Community Engagement” and “Outreach and Partnerships” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

  • 2006-2007 – University of North Carolina Tomorrow Study and Report

2008 Community Engagement Classification

2008 Listening Sessions

  • Executive Administrative Team

  • Extension, Engagement and Economic Development Operations Council

  • Extension, Engagement and Economic Development University Standing Committee

Task Force

  • Co-Chaired by Natural Resource Scientist and Social Scientist (Cowling and Pennell)

  • Multi-disciplinary team with representation from NC State’s10 colleges & EEED units


  • Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • Design

  • Education

  • Engineering

  • Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Management

  • Natural Resources

  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences

  • Textiles

  • Veterinary Medicine

  • EEED Units:

  • Cooperative Extension

  • Economic Development Partnership Program

  • General Henry Hugh Shelton Leadership Initiative

  • Industrial Extension Service

  • McKimmon Center for Extension & Continuing Education

  • Small Business Technology Development Center

Engagement Enriches Research

  • Authentic scholarship of engagement occurs when research-based experts:

    • Work together with local stakeholders to collaboratively address a technical or societal issue applying research based strategies,

    • Learn together what works most effectively, and

    • Then evaluate outcomes and track societal impact of the actions taken.

Engagement Scholarship is:

  • The discovery of new knowledge in the scholarship of engagement results from collaborative learning about actions that effectively address the problems and issues identified.

  • Scholarship results when these findings are reported, evaluated by peers, and then published and disseminated widely to inform future theory, practice, and public policy.

Task Force Charge 1

Develop recommendations regarding Evidence of the Scholarship of Engagementthat can be included in documentation developed for Faculty Annual Performance Reviews and for Decisions about Faculty Reappointments, Promotions, and Conferral of Tenure.

Task Force Charge 2

Develop recommendations regarding Institutional Performance Indicatorsthat can be used to record and evaluate accomplishments in the scholarship of engagement across the various colleges, departments, and other units with NC State University.

Task Force Charge 3

Review and develop recommendations regarding the language currently being used to track engagement and the language that should be used in the future to track engagement within NC State University’s Institutional research offices and budget offices.

Historical Context and University Values

Need for revision of reappointment, promotion, and tenure guidelines and processes in 1999:

  • Lack of uniformity among colleges

  • Lack of openness to faculty oversight

  • Lack of attention to the twin goals of

    “excellence and fairness.”

Provost and Chair of the Faculty Appointed a Faculty Select Committee on Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure

Hearings in all colleges indicated need for:

  • Better understanding and transparency regarding RPT evaluation criteria and processes,

  • More nurturing of faculty progress and self-improvement, and

  • Greater equity in evaluation of faculty with major teaching and extension and engagement vs. research responsibilities.

Provost and Chair of the Faculty Appointed a Faculty Select Committee on Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure

Hearings in all colleges indicated need for:

  • Maintaining criteria for evaluation of performance that are:

    • Appropriate for achievements within the discipline, and

    • Reasonably uniform among departments and colleges.

Recommendations for Reform of RPT Processes

  • Emphasize excellence in performance by faculty as the major goal of RPT processes,

  • Create “Statements of Mutual Expectations” for all individual faculty members based on “Six Realms of Faculty Responsibility,”

Recommendations for Reform of RPT Processes

  • Increase role of faculty at every step in mentoring and RPT decision-making processes, and

  • Require written statements at all stages of RPT evaluation based on published department, college, and university criteria.

Definition of “Values Held Dear” by North Carolina State University

“Above all, North Carolina State University values excellence and distinction in creative scholarship that facilitates the increase and diffusion of knowledge, wisdom, and the moral dimension of intelligence.”

Six Realms of Faculty Responsibility

  • Teaching and Mentoring of Undergraduate and Graduate Students

  • Discovery of Knowledge Through Discipline-Guided Inquiring

  • Creative Artistry and Literature

  • Technological and Managerial Innovation

  • Extension and Engagement with Constituencies Outside the University

  • Service in Professional Societies and Service and Engagement Within the University Itself

Attitudes in Your Department toward Engagement?

  • Supportive

    • Very positive attitude but need to broaden understanding of engagement

    • Very positive. Need though to translate into scholarship and research

  • Variable Support

    • Treats engagement as a potential income stream [but] for P&T and faculty evaluation we mostly ignore engagement, treat it as a distraction from the real important business of research

    • Continuum from NO knowledge or respect for the work . . . to total respect for the scholarship of engagement

  • Unsupportive

    • Frustrated that it is so hard to make the case successfully

    • Need for shared discourse

Developing Common Definition Connecting Scholarship and Use

  • The scholarship of engagement is the collaborative generation, refinement, and exchange of mutually beneficial and societally relevant knowledge that is communicated to and validated by peers in academe and the community.

Encompassing Broad Substantive Areas

  • The scholarship of engagement aims to develop ethical and practical solutions to social, health, economic, and/or environmental issues.

Fostering Partnerships

  • Involve higher education institutions and communities on and off campus, and

  • In partnerships that hold common goals and share expertise and resources.

Widening Concept of Scholarship

  • Challenging narrow definitions of academic scholarship,

  • Going beyond products of discipline-based research,

  • Identifying how the process of engaging in scholarship creates an intellectual environment,

  • Stimulating knowledge discovery, integration, application, and teaching.

Addressing Counter Arguments

  • Undermining distinction between basic and applied research

    • Need to assert researcher’s independence from government and corporate control,

    • But distinction hard to maintain when research is addressing complex problems.

  • Deskilling students and confusing democratic values with academic ones

    • Overemphasis on experiential learning without the necessary critical reflection on these experiences shortchanges students’ development of intellectual skills,

    • But learning how to put democratic values into practice and create a better world for everyone is a significant academic accomplishment.

Identifying External Impetus

  • Recent funding trends seek the application of theory to real-world challenges that require collaborative work that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries within interdisciplinary teams.

Recommending Institutional Supports

  • Faculty supports:

    • faculty expectations

    • reward systems

    • professional development and mentoring

  • Institutional indicators highlighting progress

  • Institutional profiling of accomplishments

See Final Task Force Report and Presentation at Office of Extension, Engagement, and Economic Development Website:

Or Contact:

  • Ellis Cowling, Co-Chair - [email protected]

  • Joan Pennell, Co-Chair - [email protected]

  • Pat Sobrero - [email protected]

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