An empirical analysis of publicly engaged scholars and traditional dichotomies within the academy

Timothy Eatman, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Syracuse University, and Director of Research at Imagining America [tkeatman@syr.edu]


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Keywords: Engaged scholars, scholar-activist, mixed method, identification

Track: Faculty roles and professional development

Format: Research paper

Date & time: Thursday 10:50-12:00
Location: Salon 12

Summary:
Publicly Engaged Scholarship (PES) is a paradigm expanding knowledge production and methodological toolkits for scholarly practice. While a growing literature supports the increasing posture of PES, more research is needed to specify key dimensions both inside and outside of academe. The present study employs quantitative methods including, factor analysis and regression techniques to examine key identity variables from a national study of 450 self identified publicly engaged scholars. Special attention is given to the familiar scholar/activist dichotomy within postsecondary education. Findings suggest that more textured understandings are required to optimize the intellectual environment within the Academy of the 21st century. Among the preliminary data it is also quite striking to see that participants when asked to choose among descriptors (with the option to add their own) that specify their identity they are just as likely to choose words that reflect their respect for the traditional scholarly enterprise as they are to select items that express interest in social justice, engagement and even activism. This is quite striking especially because it raises questions about the scholar/activist dichotomy that is pervasive within the academy.

These findings are critical for scholars as teachers, researchers, and learners as we explore public scholarship as an alternative and, perhaps, preferred pedagogy. How can we teach our students about public scholarship if we do not know who our students are? How can we best teach our students and ourselves if we do not recognize the value of public scholarship? How can we connect and identify with our students if we do not understand their motivation for public scholarship? How can we move forward with our own scholarship when we continue to face challenges within academe?

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Ellison, J., & Eatman, T. K. (2008). Scholarship in public: Knowledge creation and tenure policy in the engaged university. Syracuse, NY: Imagning America.

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