Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Engaging Departments: Moving Faculty Culture from Private to Public, Individual to Collective Focus for the Common Good

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Engaging Departments: Moving Faculty Culture from Private to Public, Individual to Collective Focus for the Common Good

Article excerpt

Preface

At the risk of offending some of my colleagues, begin this essay with a decision to use my own voice as I review Engaging Departments. For most of my professional life in higher education and until recently, I was pressured to write in formal academic language--language that masked my identity, quelled my passions, and distilled my reflective inquiry. It is a time in my life, formally retired from a university role, when I am able to prioritize direction and focus on issues and developments about which I care deeply. The book I am about to review is related to one of my long-term commitments, one for which have devoted almost 20 years. I've facilitated, designed, written, coordinated, collaborated, mentored, pleaded for resources, cooked, marched, advocated, and taught to promote community engagement in higher education, so I look forward to this book.

We live and work in a time when we urgently search both society and higher education for hope in the context and activities that surround us. Community or civic engagement has provided a hope for many of us for years, but there is a restlessness and, from my perspective, a need for accelerated momentum at this particular time. Many of us feel assured that community engagement will not be abandoned by higher education, but want to know it will not fade into an invisible dusty tradition in our colleges and universities.

The new Carnegie classification has recognized the accomplishments of community engagement at institutional levels and has indirectly acknowledged the contributions of both its pioneers and its field laborers. Other current recognitions, such as the service-learning programs named in the U. S. News and World Report rankings and the Princeton Review's Colleges with a Conscience have heightened the applause and recognitions, keeping the movement vital and visible. However, in the midst of the accolades, there is a gnawing concern over less-than-noteworthy progress in two essential supports for community engagement: (a) promotion and tenure specification of and reward for the scholarship of engagement, and (b) department-wide approaches to community engagement. Kevin Kecskes and his colleagues have addressed the latter support in Engaging Departments: Moving Faculty Culture from Private to Public, Individual to Collective Focus for the Common Good.

As a faculty development professional, I often urged faculty to introduce course texts and other reading materials with an interactive pedagogy that drew their students into the writings with heightened curiosity and interest. With this method, students begin to interact with the text with inquiry, reflection, prediction, and expectation before they begin to read it. This method has become my own personal reading strategy, consistently adding depth to my often hurried browsing of new material. I begin by reflecting on the title and author and from there move to the table of contents. I anticipate possible content with excitement and questions. Not only do I know the editor Kevin Kecskes, but I worked in his position years before him at Portland State University. I perceive this as an advantage because I can be authentically empathic when I reflect on his perspectives.

Before opening the cover, I have high hopes for a blend of scholarly descriptions of "state of the art" engaged departments along with practical strategies for achieving such cultures. I muse the varied departments with which I have been a faculty member but come up "empty handed" when it comes to visualizing the kind of culture that would enable department-wide approaches to community engagement. That paucity of personal experiences expands my eagerness for the descriptions ahead and the stories I hope to enter.

As for the editor, I am charged with the possibilities. Knowing Kevin, I am enticed by the wisdom his broad experiences, strength of commitment, and current professional responsibilities will bring to this book. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.