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Scholars and Scholarship with Ties to Communities (Connections 2015)

The four-page article, “Scholars and Scholarship with Ties to Communities” by Ellen Knutson and Ileana Marin was published Fall 2015 in Kettering Foundation‘s annual newsletter, Connections 2015 – Our History: Journeys in KF Research. In 1998, Kettering Foundation and Joffre T. Whisenton and Associates, collaborated to create Whisenton Public Scholars program, for scholars to experiment with and provide research on facets of citizen-centered democracy. The two-year research exchange program encourages scholars, usually faculty and administration, who work with often under-served communities. Knutson and Marin give examples of the research projects that the fellows have worked on in the past and talk about the Whisenton Public Scholars Alumni Research Conference in 2015, which shares some of the outcomes of the whole program over the years. Read an excerpt from the article below and find Connections 2015 available for free PDF download on Kettering’s site here.

KF_Connections 2015From the article…

The Whisenton Public Scholars program is a joint project between the Kettering Foundation and Joffre T. Whisenton and Associates. Participants have primarily included faculty and administrators from schools with a mission to serve minority communities (such as historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges). Many of these institutions have maintained close ties to their communities and focus on developing student engagement. The two-year program encourages scholars to experiment with elements of citizen-centered democracy, such as naming and framing issues and making choices together in the context of teaching, research, and service. Additionally, the research exchange provides space for conducting novel research addressing the fundamental problems of democracy. Since 1998, when the program was created, more than 70 faculty and administrators have participated; the newest cohort met for the first time in July 2015.

The program was designed to investigate ways that faculty from various disciplines at schools closely tied to their communities could institute public scholarship practices. During the first year of the research exchange, participants come together to discuss topics related to public life and democratic self-governance, the role of higher education in democracy, and approaches to research in their communities. They also focus on learning toname and frame issues for public deliberation, the ideas behind public scholarship, and the relationship between institutions of higher education and communities. In order to have a deeper understanding of the concepts introduced in the exchange, participants experiment with putting the ideas into practice through completing field work between face-to-face meetings. The second year of the program is directed by the research projects of the participants. Beginning with the 2010- 2012 cohort, the scholars also joined other research exchanges conducted at the foundation that matched their research interest during this second year.

Four Research Areas
Over the course of the program, the scholars have produced research around the following broad areas:
– Developing curricular or cocurricular activities around public practices and citizenship;
– Framing an issue for public deliberation that is important to their campus, community, or professional groups;
– (Re)discovering the democratic foundations of higher education professions; and
– Articulating public scholarship as it relates to disciplinary concerns.

Many scholars have worked to include deliberative practices in their courses. They represent a variety of disciplines, from teacher education to international business education. For some, this meant including a forum as a pedagogical tool for students to learn about a relevant topic related to the course, while others revamped their complete curriculum to include deliberative elements throughout the course. In Deliberation and the Work of Higher Education, Cristina Alfaro (2000- 2001 cohort) describes how she infused her teacher education courses with deliberation in her chapter, “Reinventing Teacher Education: The Role of Deliberative Pedagogy in the K-6 Classroom.”

Scholars have also worked with students and community members to name and frame issues for deliberation. Three examples of such framing efforts on campuses and in communities are from Nora Antoine (Sinte Gleska University), Xuan Santos (California State University San Marcos), and a trio of scholars from three campuses, Anna Green (Florida A&M University), Brian Anderson (Tougaloo College), and Kevin Rolle (South Carolina State University). Antoine (1998-2000 cohort) framed the issue of community development on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Santos (2013-2015 cohort) is working with youth in his community to support them as they identify and frame issues that affect them. Green, Anderson, and Rolle (2005-2007 cohort) focused their issue guide on fraternities and sororities on HBCU campuses.

About Kettering Foundation and Connections
KF_LogoThe Kettering Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of cooperative research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should? Kettering’s research is distinctive because it is conducted from the perspective of citizens and focuses on what people can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities, and their nation.

Each issue of this annual newsletter focuses on a particular area of Kettering’s research. The 2015 issue, edited by Kettering program officer Melinda Gilmore and director of communications David Holwerk, focuses on our yearlong review of Kettering’s research over time.

Follow on Twitter: @KetteringFdn

Resource Link: www.kettering.org/sites/default/files/periodical-article/Knutsen-Marin_2015.pdf

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