Provost’s Symposium on Engaged Scholarship
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson May 23, 2023
A focus on collaboration between community organizations and five Delaware higher education institutions with community at its core
The fourth annual Provost’s Symposium on Engaged Scholarship brought together leaders of Delaware’s higher education community to promote greater collaboration in developing a systematic approach to finding solutions to statewide challenges.
“We can accomplish this through fostering and growing community engagement partnerships with organizations across the state and the region,” University of Delaware Provost Laura Carlson said in her opening remarks at the event, held April 20 in the Tower at STAR Campus. “This symposium highlights why partnerships between our five institutions of higher education in Delaware are also critically important.”
Led by UD’s Community Engagement Initiative, the symposium brought together faculty and chief academic officers from UD, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, Goldey-Beacom College and Wilmington University. Administrators shared their institution’s unique approach to community engagement and how their methods align with their school’s mission.
Lynnette Overby, director of UD’s Community Engagement Initiative, thanked attendees for the partnerships and relationships they build throughout the year. She noted that collaboration and openness are the keys to building community. Overby also acknowledged the rewarding work of building engaged scholarship and community partnerships. She encouraged participants to continue their commitment of working together and making space for meaningful open conversations that will benefit all Delawareans.
In the first panel discussion, academic leaders from each institution described how their faculty, students and policies impact community engagement practices and partnerships.
Vice Provost Matt Kinservik, who leads UD’s Faculty Affairs team, emphasized the importance of adopting promotion and tenure guidelines that recognize and reward the achievements of faculty whose research, teaching, and service activities engage with community partners. He noted that conventional criteria of achievement do not sufficiently capture the full range and impact of engaged scholarly activities. Jim Wilson, vice president of academic affairs of Wilmington University, noted the importance of engaged teaching and its impact on students’ higher education experiences as well as the communities with whom they partner. While each institution's mission is different, the focus is the same: creating engaged scholarship opportunities that benefit student learning and encourage engaged citizens while partnering with community organizations and leaders who are experts in their fields. All agreed that these experiential learning opportunities have a profound impact on students, faculty and communities.
Christine Sowinski, is the project coordinator for UD’s HEALTH for All programs. (In this case, HEALTH is the abbreviation for Health, Empowerment, Access, Learning, Teaching and Humanity.)
“It is an honor to collaborate and partner with the community to engage individuals needing healthcare who otherwise might not be reached,” Sowinski said. “Our program also provides graduate students and undergraduates an innovative experiential learning experience.”
The second panel discussion was led by community partners from Delaware who work daily to improve the quality of life of Delawareans. The partners challenged academic collaborators to think critically about the people they serve and to consider the diversity of needs as these partnerships develop over time.
“When partners are seen as assets and co-project participants, meaningful, long-term relationships and beneficial outcomes occur,” Overby said.
Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Holodick provided the keynote address. He thanked the attendees for the engaged scholarship that each institution contributes to Delaware and for helping to build community through each school's unique engagement focus.
Participants focused on a variety of engagement initiatives, including workforce development, education, arts and social change and health and wellbeing. There was consensus to continue the dialogue and further explore engaged scholarship opportunities and partnerships with multidisciplinary approaches and multi-university considerations.
Throughout the symposium, faculty and students presented community engagement posters representing a variety of disciplines.