In this paper, the authors explain and display their process for becoming more critically reflexive scholars (Cunliffe, 2003). This is accomplished through creating a community of critically reflexive scholars. Within this community of inquiry (Eriksen, 2001), participants attempt to go beyond a simple awareness of their ontological and epistemological assumptions and to reflex upon their individual uniqueness as a human being who is engaged in scholarship. In other words, each participant jointly attempts to understand his or her self as a scholar. Specifically, in this article, the authors critically reflex upon their selves within the context of their roles as feminist scholars. The process of inquiry consists of ongoing four stages: giving an account of one's self with respect to a particular area of scholarship, reading everyone else's account, and responding to reading each others account, and finally sharing these responses with one another. Through this process, the authors not only became more critically reflexive scholars but were also personally transformed and obtained a deeper understanding of feminism.
In recent years, entrepreneurship scholars have begun studying entrepreneurship from social, prosaic, narrative, and discursive dimensions. These ―new movement‖ approaches privilege both business and non-business perspectives. Research in this domain of inquiry seeks to account for the everyday and mundane practices of social actors that can be characterized as entrepreneurial; therefore, prosaic approaches can de-center the narrative of entrepreneurship as comprised solely of a group of elite entrepreneurs. While researchers are encouraged to describe entrepreneurship from a life-story perspective, few scholars have used a self-narrative approach to writing about entrepreneurship. In this article, I use autoethnography to provide a personal account of entrepreneurship. I reflexively interrogate the ways in which I have reproduced, disrupted, benefited from, and been hindered by the dominant enterprise discourses in the United States. A prosaic approach using self-narrative, as demonstrated, is already engaged in a process of restorying entrepreneurship scholarship because it takes into account, among other things, the details of everyday entrepreneurial activity and is receptive to heterodox accounts (even stories that end in entrepreneurial failure).
Amid the disempowerment and marginalization faced by young girls, character development programs are being implemented to change the course for girls by fostering strong and empowered feminine identities. I explore the challenges of implementing one such program through my ethnographic and community engaged research with a character development program designed to equip 3rd through 5th grade girls with the skills and confidence they need to grow into empowered women. Through a qualitative analysis, I empirically demonstrate the importance of community engaged scholarship for uniting theory with practice. My analysis extends research exploring community engaged, empowerment programs by highlighting the ways empowerment is experienced differently by every girl. I point to the tension between empowerment in theory and in practice, specifically addressing the assumptions: 1) of girls’ uniform experience base, 2) about the influence of the GRL message among competing others, and 3) regarding the utility of certain strategies in diverse situations, all of which undermine the process of empowerment. I describe my experience working with the founder of the organization to revise the curriculum and offer a set of practical implications for this and similar organizations to productively respond to the tensions between the theory and practice of empowerment. Finally, I argue for a conceptual shift in the way we theorize empowerment as an ongoing and constantly negotiated state of engagement, rather than an endpoint or stable state of being.
This paper describes how two professors struggled with traditional and non-traditional approaches to scholarship in order to understand how they could best serve students in a new secondary school (grades 6-12) while fulfilling expectations for tenure and promotion. Using methods related to reflexive autoethnography, the authors explore the rewards and challenges of building a partnership between a college and school that enabled the development of a comprehensive and systemic college and career readiness program called the Career Institute (CI). The professors explore the tensions that arose when they tried to both build and study this program. Over time, the professors realized that in order for the program to be important and meaningful for students, they themselves needed to develop a non-traditional approach to scholarship that was engaged, responsive, and service-oriented. Accordingly, they developed a model from which to theorize about the goals and aims of community-engaged scholarship: “Community-engaged scholarship” creates, explores and extends research as it is valued by, valued for, and valued with.
Communicative evaluation is a type of community-engaged scholarship that encourages collaboration between stakeholders and evaluators as they develop an action plan about a social problem. However, extant research has failed to adequately explore issues of power and identity encountered by communication evaluators in the field. Doing so could enrich assessment processes and outcomes to develop more nuanced theory and practice. Thus, we reflexively develop and integrate our personal stories and experiences of conducting communication evaluation research to highlight four dialectic identity tensions: (a) insider/outsider; (b) expert/novice; (c) program sustainer/impeder; and (d) researcher/friend. By displaying these tensions, we reveal potential opportunities for new insights that could offer pragmatic applications more attuned to the people and contexts of evaluation research. These tensions highlight the need for critical reflection in the pursuit of program sustainability and offer points for transformation. We conclude with pragmatic recommendations for engaging reflexivity in communication evaluation research.
Communities face complex problems that are best addressed by integrating the perspectives of multiple disciplines, yet many forms of engaged scholarship remain disciplinarily specific. Universities struggle to bring together highly disparate disciplines linking knowledge with action to address community problems. Sustainability is an important example of a complex, urgent problem that is best addressed by integrating multiple disciplines. In the United States, a unique multi-year initiative, Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (SSI), addresses sustainability problems by working across disciplines on engaged research. Scholars, representing multiple disciplines and most of the higher education institutions in the state, working with their community partners, are addressing sustainability problems related to landscape change, specifically urbanization, forest ecosystem management, and climate change. This initiative is composed of over two dozen interdisciplinary, engaged research projects that include diverse stakeholders (e.g., nongovernmental organizations, communities, policy organizations, and governmental leaders) as members of the research teams. Reflecting on the challenges of involving multiple disciplines in research projects, we discuss SSI as an exemplar of interdisciplinary, engaged campus initiatives. The scale and reach of the initiative (on-campus and statewide), the number of disciplines and stakeholders involved in the project, and the conversations around engaged scholarship occurring at the University of Maine capture the challenges and opportunities of moving the scholarship of engagement beyond the isolated work of individual disciplines.
Building on conceptions of democratic engagement, we explicate the epistemological and political commitments of engaged scholarship tied to deliberative democracy that responds to the neutrality challenge of doing impactful political work without advocating for a particular political position. The Colorado State University Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) provides a model of democratic engagement by serving as an impartial resource for its community, in part by training students to be facilitators of public processes. This type of democratic engagement can cultivate mutual benefits for students, professors, universities, community organizations, and citizens. We offer a principle of passionate impartiality for guiding process-design and facilitation. Passionately impartial scholars and students are passionate about their community, democracy, and solving problems but are nonetheless committed to serving a primarily impartial, process-focused role in order to improve local communication practices. Drawing on challenges from critical theory and the academy, we offer a nuanced account of what it means to negotiate the tensions between serving an impartial role while also upholding democratic values of equality and inclusion.
We are pleased to offer this special issue on community-engaged scholarship. As scholar-activists working for social justice alongside youth of color (Pat) and critical arts activists engaging with stigmatized communities (Ester), we began this project with the intent of gathering a collection of essays operating against the traditional colonizing methodologies that have been the hallmarks of social/science research for centuries (Smith, 1999). In organization studies, this tradition includes Kurt Lewin’s 20th century research studies that laid the groundwork for participatory approaches to system change, but which offered no critique or analysis of the broader societal structures of power that embed such change (Adelman, 1993). For this special issue, we called for essays that would attend to issues of power in the participative research process, and with a conscious aim toward decolonizing research that exposes and challenges inequalities in the production, outcomes, and sharing of research content. Also, our intent was to collect essays that would highlight the ways scholars are grappling with some of the “prickly” issues (to use the apt term provided by of one of the contributions to this special issue, Schaefer & Rivera) in community-engaged scholarship—issues that emerge at the intersection between the political and the theoretical and which are at the forefront of conversations both inside and outside the traditional boundaries of academe.