Chad Raphael, Christopher Bacon, and Iris Stewart-Frey of the Environmental Justice Collaborative, Santa Clara University
This is a continuation of the previous Ecojesuit article that shared the first four of eight strategies in strengthening an engaged scholarship for environmental and social justice that the Environmental Justice Collaborative at Santa Clara University identified.
The Environmental Justice Collaborative is a two-year interdisciplinary faculty seminar on environmental justice and the common good that advances research, teaching, and university initiatives that contribute to the university’s Jesuit and Catholic vocation as a transformative force. Faculty Collaborative members Chad Raphael, Professor, Department of Communication, and Christopher Bacon and Iris Stewart-Frey, both Associate Professors, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences developed this paper and we now share the last four strategies:
5. Expanding scholarly communication
In most institutions, standards for faculty promotion and tenure continue to erect barriers to community-engaged scholarship. (Welch, 2016, pp 219-220) Many faculty members are concerned that devoting the considerable time required to make and maintain collaborative relationships with community partners runs counter to some institutions’ demand for increasing numbers of faculty publications in the name of “scholarly productivity” and the fast publication cycles in today’s academic discourse.
In addition, restrictive standards that put heavy emphasis on journal articles and books from university presses lead faculty members to devote most of their energy to publishing in formats that fail to communicate scholarship to partners and decision makers outside the academy. Too often, we reduce the impact of scholarship to the number of citations in prestigious journals, failing to include benefits to communities. As a result, we can lose focus on the vital questions of whose knowledge we are contributing to, and to what ends?
As we review our hiring, tenure and promotion policies, we can ensure that they adequately:
6. Assessing scholarly rigor and ethics
Engaged scholarship also challenges us to rethink how we assess the rigor and ethics of research. External review is slowly becoming more inclusive as academic associations and universities create review boards in which community members and academics work together to evaluate engaged research proposals and publications. Many disciplines have developed standards of peer review specific to engaged scholarship which apply traditional criteria such as authors’ ability to reference and build upon prior work, but also assess how effectively academic researchers incorporate community expertise, the degree to which the work benefits communities, and other standards unique to engaged scholarship. (Jordan, 2007)
In addition to traditional research ethics requirements for treatment of human subjects, evaluators of engaged research examine evidence that collaborations are guided by “mutual respect, shared work, and shared credit (and approval by an institutional review board and/or community-based review mechanism, if applicable).” (CES4Health.info, 2018)
In response, Jesuit universities can:
7. Enhancing training and professional development
Universities are only beginning to provide training for community partners who want to participate in engaged scholarship. Community organizations need help identifying potential partners within universities, understanding protections for human subjects and the requirements of funders and sponsored projects offices, and advocating productively for their needs while collaborating with academic partners. (Welch, 2016)
Faculty partners also need professional development to build community partnerships. In addition to practical knowledge of engaged research methods, faculty members need essential skills such as relationship-building, communication and listening, respect and empathy for diverse cultures, flexibility and adaptability, and the ability to collaborate across disciplines. (Campus Community Partnerships for Health, 2018) Additional resources for these are skills that will also help the faculty to be better contributors to university life.
Jesuit universities can:
8. Seeking new resources
Few potential donors are aware of the existence and value of community-engaged scholarship. Sponsored projects offices and faculty may not be aware of public funding agencies and private foundations that support this kind of scholarship. We can:
Campus Community Partnerships for Health (2018). Community-engaged scholarship toolkit. Retrieved from Community-Campus Partnerships for health.
Campus Compact (2018). Research university engaged scholarship toolkit. Retrieved from Campus Compact.
CES4Health.info (2018). Peer review process. Retrieved from CES4Health.info.
Francis, P (2015). Laudato si’: On care for our common home. Retrieved from The Holy See.
Jordan, C (Ed). (2007). Community-engaged scholarship review, promotion & tenure package. Peer Review Workgroup,
Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health. Retrieved from Community-Engaged Scholarship for Health Collaborative.
Welch, M (2016). Engaging higher education: Purpose, platforms, and programs for community engagement. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.