Posted: August 16, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ACP, civic engagement, Imagining America
Syracuse University and Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. (IA) announce the appointments of Timothy K. Eatman and Scott J. Peters as IA co-directors, effective August 1st. Imagining America is a key partner of the The American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP) and DemocracyU.
“With Eatman and Peters as directors, IA will continue to advance the movement for engaged scholarship in higher education,” says Bruce Burgett, chair of IA’s National Advisory Board. “In many ways, this is a better outcome of our national search than anyone on the IA board could have imagined. Building on the inspired work of outgoing IA director, Jan Cohen-Cruz, Tim and Scott will be able to use their shared commitment to institutional transformation to create significant impact, both locally and nationally.”
Eatman has provided national leadership as IA’s director of research for the last eight years, and since 2007 has been assistant professor of higher education in SU’s School of Education. He continues as a faculty member in the Higher Education Department.
A distinguished scholar of the history of American higher education’s public purposes and work, Peters comes to IA and SU from Cornell University, where he is an associate professor of education. He will have an appointment in SU’s School of Education as a professor in the Cultural Foundations of Education Department, and will also be a faculty affiliate with the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
A consortium of 90 colleges and universities from across the country, IA is the only national coalition working explicitly at the nexus of publicly engaged scholarship and the humanities, arts, and design. IA works with academic and community partners to develop knowledge about and resources for individual and institutional change through community organizing and movement-building, a large-scale annual conference, and ongoing research and action initiatives. Current initiatives include projects aimed at transforming higher education tenure and promotion policies, assessment practices, and graduate and undergraduate education to cultivate publicly engaged scholarship; linking diversity and engagement efforts on campuses; and partnering with community-based arts, cultural and humanities organizations. SU is host to IA through 2017, an extension that was announced in fall 2011.
Innovative Leadership Model
The appointment of co-directors, chosen by IA’s National Advisory Board and SU, puts Eatman and Peters in a unique position to demonstrate to IA’s national network the value of collaborative leadership. It reflects IA’s vision of not only building an organization, but also a movement for institutional transformation in which publicly engaged scholars, artists, designers and community members enrich civic life for all.
“We believe that the establishment of a shared leadership model for IA that places in view joint roles, as well as distinct but interdependent responsibilities, will nurture the health of the consortium,” says Eatman. Peters adds, “Collaborative leadership aligns with the democratic spirit and values of IA and the national public engagement movement.”
As co-directors, Eatman and Peters will share the responsibilities of strategic planning, advocacy and research, strengthening and expanding IA’s consortium, implementing robust program activity that includes an annual national conference, managing staff and fundraising. Both members of the steering committee of the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP), Eatman and Peters began collaborating on a national level last spring. ACP is a broad alliance of organizations—including the White House Office of Public Engagement and U.S. Department of Education—that promotes higher education as an agent of democracy. Through ACP, Eatman and Peters will be engaging the IA consortium in a new major action-research initiative aimed at rebuilding and reconstructing “democracy’s colleges” in American higher education.
Eatman and Peters will also have an active presence at SU and in the Syracuse community, maintaining a vigorous research and writing agenda that advances and exemplifies the public dimensions of scholarly and creative work and contributes to Scholarship in Action. They will be working across the institution with SU’s leadership and faculty of every school and college to establish an institutional presence for IA’s work that will endure beyond the years when IA’s national headquarters is located at SU.
“The appointment of Tim Eatman and Scott Peters as co-directors of Imagining America is a huge win-win for IA and SU,” says SU chancellor and president Nancy Cantor. “Not only does it model for IA’s membership the kind of collaboration that is central to the organization’s identity, but it assures that SU and our many ‘communities of experts’ will benefit from the collective impact of these two nationally prominent, innovative scholars.”
About Eatman and Peters
As IA’s research director, Eatman has provided leadership on key research and action initiatives that have shaped regional, national and global conversations about publicly engaged scholarship. As co-principal investigator of the Tenure Team Initiative on Public Scholarship, he co-wrote its seminal report, “Scholarship in Public: Knowledge Creation and Tenure Policy in the Engaged University” (2008) with IA’s founding director, Julie Ellison, and organized a series of regional meetings with Campus Compact that involved more than 60 higher education institutions. This work on faculty rewards developed into a second national study by Eatman on the career aspirations and decisions of graduate students and early-career academic professionals who identify as publicly engaged scholars.
Eatman, who transitioned with the IA headquarters from the University of Michigan to SU in 2007, has championed the expansion of the consortium’s research enterprise. He has represented IA and SU nationally and internationally through keynote addresses, workshops and consultancies that have increased conceptual understanding about and visibility for publicly engaged scholarship, forging critical relationships with several leading higher education associations. This summer for a second consecutive year he was a faculty member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success. He serves on the leadership team of IA’s collaborative action-research project with Columbia University Law School’s Center for Institutional and Social Change on diversity and engagement, and will soon begin a two-year appointment as an Honorary Professor at the University of South Africa.
An educational sociologist, Eatman received his Ph.D. in educational policy studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master’s degree in college student development at Howard University and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development at Pace University. He is the recipient of the 2010 Early Career Research Award from the International Research Association for Service Learning and Community Engagement.
Peters has devoted his professional career to studying and strengthening higher education’s public mission, purposes and work. His research agenda focuses on the connections between higher education and democracy, especially in the land-grant system. His most recent book, “Democracy and Higher Education: Traditions and Stories of Civic Engagement” (Michigan State University Press, 2010), contributes to a new line of research on the critically important task of strengthening and defending higher education’s positive roles in and for a democratic society. He is the author of Imagining America’s Foreseeable Futures position paper, “Changing the Story About Higher Education’s Public Purposes and Work: Land-Grants, Liberty, and the Little Country Theater.”
A nationally recognized scholar, Peters has designed and pursued independent research projects with significant support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Kettering Foundation. He is on the leadership team of a national five-year initiative, funded with a $5 million grant from USDA, called “Food Dignity: Action Research on Engaging Food Insecure Communities and Universities in Building Sustainable Community Food Systems.”
At Cornell since 1999, Peters established an innovative teaching and research program that interweaves democratic theory and political and educational philosophy with historical and narrative methods. Before Cornell, he spent two years as an assistant professor of public work with the University of Minnesota Extension System. He received two graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota: a master’s degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a Ph.D. in educational policy and administration. Before his graduate work, he served for 10 years as program director of one of the nation’s oldest community-university partnerships, the University YMCA at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his bachelor’s degree in education.
This fall, IA will host an event for the SU community to engage with new directors Eatman and Peters. They will preside over IA’s upcoming annual national conference, Oct. 5-7, in New York City.
Posted: February 22, 2012 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Chronicle of Higher Education, civic engagement, Civic Mission, Ethnicity, Higher Education, Imagining America, Race, Scholarship in Action, Syracuse University, youth, Youth participation
At Syracuse University, there is a focused effort to embody democratic education through teaching, research, and engaged praxis. The rhetoric of publicly engaged scholarship is communicated through our vision, Scholarship in Action, and we purposefully enact the civic mission of higher education through hiringand admission practices, funded initiatives and within the scope of graduate education and research. Graduate education is an important site for the articulation and development of higher education’s role in participatory democracy because graduate students are the next generation of university professorate, administrators, and community partners.
Last October, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article titled, Syracuse’ Slide where, among other things, Syracuse University’s commitment to publicly engaged scholarship was criticized as playing a role in lowering standards and reducing the national prestige of our university. This article mobilized graduate students from across campus, galvanizing us to speak back, across disciplinary boundaries, to the unfair depiction of our commitment to the university as a public good. The article deepened our level of solidarity as graduate students, stimulating an urgency about declaring the value of publicly engaged scholarship. Far from a slide, partnering with community stakeholders for the robust and dynamic production of knowledge is indicative of Syracuse’s Rise.
In my role as director for Imagining America: Artist and Scholars in Public Life’s Central New York, Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE), I e-mailed a copy of the article to PAGE members and suggested we write a collective letter to the editor. The response was overwhelming. Eighty-seven people identifying as “Syracuse’s Engaged Grads” answered the call offering to either help draft or sign the letter. The most remarkable feature of this response was the refusal of members of the Syracuse University graduate community to allow our University’s leadership in the new epistemology of reciprocal knowledge making to be mislabeled as anything but the most rigorous of scholarship. Using our own democratic practices as the foundation of our letter, we argued that:
• The building of knowledge is inseparable from practice;
• The inclusion of traditionally underrepresented students generates increased scholarly rigor by expanding perspectives;
• The dichotomous thinking that separates university and community knowledge is anachronistic;
• Community members are our partners and lived space is our laboratory and
• Engaged practice informs collective understandings and helps to create coalitions for civic action.
I am only one of the people who contributed to Syracuse’s Rise; it was a truly organic collaborative response to a gross mischaracterization facilitated by a far-reaching vehicle. I am proud to be a graduate student at an institution where our leadership, our professorate, and our student body are working to expand the paradigm of knowledge making to center the public good. When we consider our democracy in the United States today, there is no space for arguing if the University should engaged with the public; the time has passed for this question. Rather, it is for us, graduate students, to explore and develop new ways that our learning can cross disciplines and, quite literally, cross the street to respond to the problems and questions of the communities we rise up in. We believe that the strongest, richest, and most impactful knowledge making requires an honored place along the
continuum of scholarship for the acknowledgement of diverse scholarly forms and deep engagement.
A. Wendy Nastasi is a third year doctoral student in the Cultural Foundations of EducationDepartment in the School of Education at Syracuse University. Wendy is director of ImagingAmerica’s CNY PAGE program, and a member of IA’s Publicly Engaged Scholars study researchteam. As an instructor for SU’s Intergroup Dialogue Program, Wendy co-facilitates SOC/WGS 230:Intergroup Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity. Wendy’s research engages youth participatory actionresearch (YPAR) as a praxis for mobilizing urban high school students’ civic agency while centering youth’s voices and epistemic contributions. You can contact Wendy at either email@example.com or at cnypage.syr.edu.
Posted: December 21, 2011 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: American Commonwealth Partnership, Civic Purpose, D.R.E.A.M., Higher Education, Imagining America
By Kevin Bott, Associate Director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life at Syracuse University
The large-scale, collaborative effort of the American Commonwealth Partnership turns my thinking to the organizing that’s required to foster a “movement” to reclaim higher education’s civic purposes. Last September, participants at Imagining America’s national conference in the Twin Cities were asked to consider their own role within higher education’s civic engagement movement. But while some considered, others questioned: Is this really a movement? Is there anyone besides the people at this conference who think of what we’re doing as a movement, or is it more likely people think of this as a passing fad?
At Imagining America, our response is of course, “yes, it is a movement!” Granted, within the great landscape of higher education, it’s a relatively small one. And although the idea of education serving an important function in a healthy democracy has been part of American rhetoric since colonial days, what many now think of as a “movement” to reclaim the civic and democratic purposes of higher education is also relatively young. Depending on which lineage one traces, we can find advances and new forms of an “engaged” scholarship springing up in the United States for at least 150 years: with the passing of the Morrill Acts in 1862 and 1890; during the 1960s, a period that saw the expansion of both whom entered the university, and who and what was studied in it; and from the 1980s through the present, when in addition to Imagining America organizations like the AAC&U, AASCU, America Democracy Project, Campus Compact, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, Project Pericles, and the Bonner Foundation continue to push for richer, more critical, and more ethical praxes to address real-world issues.
(It is also worth noting that many Imagining America consortium members identify with artistic, cultural, and humanistic movements to expand democratic engagement that are wholly separate from higher education. Much of our focus for the past several years has sought to bring those many strands of knowledge together – but that’s a topic for another blog!)
So this movement is afoot – of indeterminate size and maturity – and it aims to transform colleges and universities in such a way that it expands our notions of higher education’s role in democratic society. It is a collaborative movement that includes many other prominent national higher education, policy, government, community-based, and funding agencies.
Yet, no movement can reach its potential without an organizing strategy to connect a large and overarching vision and values to the day-to-day concerns of the movement’s stakeholders (us). With that in mind, here are some questions exploring what it means to organize within this movement:
- How can organizing help leverage the local knowledge that’s generated in campus-community partnerships to address real-world issues so it can serve to advance a broad, national, and perhaps international agenda?
- Does organizing suggest the development of one or more campaigns around particular issues so that we are not organizing for something so broad (“the transformation of higher education” or “civic engagement”) that our efforts gain no traction by dint of being disconnected from specific, concrete concerns?
- How can we organize around particular issues in a way that is resonant with all the movement’s stakeholders?
- How can we forge greater alliances with other higher education and community-based organizations who share similar values?
- Are there allies to the movement that we are inadvertently overlooking? And how can we listen to the perspectives of those who might oppose our aims?
It seems this blog is an apt forum for thinking through the questions about campus organizing in the context of the many different types of higher education institutions that often have very different aims. I’m looking forward to the ongoing discourse!
Kevin Bott is associate director of Syracuse University-based Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, the national consortium of 90 colleges and universities dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts, and design. Bott holds a PhD in educational theater from New York University, and has led numerous community-based and applied theater projects in the U.S. and abroad. He currently directs The D.R.E.A.(M.)3 Freedom Revival, a campus-community performance project designed to encourage active democratic participation in Syracuse and Greater Central New York.