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Faculty Engagement - Overview

Page history last edited by Rachayita Shah 5 months, 1 week ago

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Faculty Engagement

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


For more than 30 years, the Bonner Foundation has worked nationally with institutions of higher education to develop a comprehensive approach to community engagement, which includes approaches to linking this work with academic study, research, service, and teaching and learning. While this work has included intensive community service by Bonner Scholars and Leaders, carried out developmentally over four years, it has also included strategies to engage faculty and integrate curriculum and course-based / credit-bearing models. This work has taken -- and continues to -- take many forms. These efforts are termed in various ways including:


  • Service-Learning
  • Community-Engaged Learning
  • Community-Based Research 
  • Community-Based Participatory Research 
  • Action Research 
  • Academic Community Engagement
  • Public Scholarship
  • Academically-Based Community Service
  • Consulting and Capacity Building Projects undertaken with community partners or constituents by faculty, students, courses, and programs 


Regardless of the name given by a particular campus to identify their community service efforts, the aim of the Bonner Program is to foster deep, developmental, integrated community engagement not only for students and community partners but also for faculty and the broader institution. For more than two decades, we have seeded and worked on various strategies for academic community engagement. These have included community-based research, the development of academic programs such as civic engagement minors (an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education), and an ongoing PolicyOptions project.


Today, our campuses want strategies to link community engagement across their curricula. Therefore, administrators at colleges and universities throughout the Bonner Network and in the academic community in general are working to advance and deepen faculty integration in community service. Challenges related to successfully engaging and supporting faculty who wish to be involved in this work are common across campuses. These challenges are often attributed to institutional culture and policy issues. 


On many campuses, for example, faculty members may not be recognized or rewarded for their engagement in this type of work. Teaching responsibilities, research, and service may not be tied to community-based learning, and the demands faced by faculty members to earn tenure and promotion may restrict their work in accordance with institutional and departmental practices.


Even where supportive policies exist, institutional and faculty culture may run counter to successful off-campus engagement with communities that have unmet needs. Simple barriers such as time, logistics, and the academic semester (or quarter) structure permeate this arena. Broader challenges in terms of faculty load and differing conceptions of research also come into play.


In the face of these challenges, the Bonner Foundation and participants in the campus network are working in conjunction to broaden and deepen the connections of civic work with academic scholarship and to engage faculty and other instructors (including partners as co-educators) in this process. This section highlights resources and models that have been used effectively by campuses. A spectrum of activities and strategies may be helpful in these efforts. The framework below articulates a continuum including foundational, transformational, and institutional alignment. Several of these approaches are supported by additional resource material here.





Foundational Strategies

These are strategies that may require short-term investment of staff and that can be easy to create and share with relative little staff time or support. Such strategies can be important -- and possibly necessary -- but may not lead to long-term relationships and sustained engagement.


  • Community Engagement/Service-Learning Resource Library

  • Handbooks and guides, such as a Faculty Service-Learning Handbook

  • Assistance with transporting students to service/project sites

  • Financial assistance for course-related expenses

  • Teaching Assistants to assist with courses (but in a simple placement model, e.g. introducing students to service sites, local community, reciprocal community engagement)

  • Helping faculty members plan/do reflection strategies for course-based projects 

  • Templates and sample surveys (such as mid-term surveys)

  • Circulating lists of relevant conferences

  • Sharing lists of relevant publications (where faculty might publish their work)

  • Maintaining lists of courses that have a SL/CBR project

  • Faculty Recognition Strategies (events, awards, celebrations)

  • Letters of reference and support for faculty tenure portfolios

  • Course/Program development support grants (Mini-Grants for Service-Learning, CBR, etc.; may be better as transformational if linked with intentional training, cohort model, or other structured support)


Transformational Strategies

These strategies may be ongoing and repeated, perhaps every term or year, and generally involve more relationship building as well as program development and management.


  • Faculty Trainings and Workshops (led from within or with outside presenters)

  • Faculty Development Seminars

  • Faculty Fellowships and Cohort Programs (i.e., formalizing a person's role with your center)

  • Student Community Engaged Learning/Service-Learning Teaching Assistant Program (train and guide students,

    often in a cohort, for a more serious support role)*

  • Invitations/attendance at professional conferences related to service/community engagement/service-Learning

    (with a team or representing the program/institution)

  • Course/Program development support grants (Mini-Grants for Service-Learning or Community-Based Research)

  • Faculty Advisory Boards


Institutional Alignment Strategies

These strategies, which generally need to involve several faculty members and senior leaders, can help foster changes related to institutional awareness, policies, and culture.


  • Concerted strategy to develop Student Learning Outcomes and measures associated with community engagement/community engaged learning by a Center/Institution

  • Efforts to link community engagement with institutional accreditation review

  • Course designators or attributions, especially when utilized to promote quality and best practices (i.e., linked with student learning outcomes)

  • Efforts to revise tenure and promotion standards to align with faculty engagement


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