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International conference on engaged scholarship to feature many Penn Staters

Slide with four photos in a collage showing different areas of engaged scholarship
This slide from the presentation on Designing Lean, Scalable and High-Impact Engaged Scholarship Ecosystems by Khanjan Mehta and Richard E. Smith Jr. helps to illustrate the foundational steps being taken to build a strong culture of engaged scholarship across the University, make Penn State the epicenter of social innovation and leverage the synergies among Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs and Outreach to expand engagement opportunities. Image: Penn State
October 6, 2014

Penn State will be well-represented by faculty, staff and students attending and presenting at the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference, being held Oct. 7-8 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Faculty and staff from multiple campuses, Outreach and Online Education, Student Affairs, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence and other areas all will be present. "The number of faculty and staff both attending and presenting at the conference is impressive. It's a wonderful reflection of the University-wide commitment that there is to engaged scholarship at Penn State," said Barry Bram, special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs and one of three co-leaders of the University's Council on Engaged Scholarship along with Careen Yarnal, associate professor of recreation, park and tourism management, and Janet Conner, senior director of engaged scholarship and administration in Outreach and Online Education. "This is an opportunity for Penn State to demonstrate the outstanding engaged scholarship that is occurring at the University and to demonstrate our leadership in the area."

The Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference brings together research universities from the around the world to share best practices and innovations to advance engaged scholarship and student engagement.

"The conference offers an international platform to share the many innovative concepts and approaches advanced by Penn State faculty, students and staff around engaged scholarship and community engagement," said Craig Weidemann, vice president for Outreach and vice provost for Online Education.

Weidemann, who is a co-sponsor of the Council on Engaged Scholarship with Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education, and Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, emphasized the University's longstanding commitment to engaged scholarship. "Penn State is a national leader in this area. The consortium originated here 15 years ago, with two of our Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) partners, and has grown to become the premier higher education professional association focusing on the application of evidence-based interventions and the sharing of knowledge to inform and engage with our students and communities for the public good."

Penn State was host for the organization's inaugural conference in 1999 and also hosted it in 2001, 2004 and 2008. The conference returns to Penn State University Park in 2015.

"The great representation we have at this year's conference in Edmonton hopefully will inspire people to want to visit Penn State next year, learn even more about what we're doing, and understand that Penn State can and will be a model institution for engaged scholarship," Bram said.

The conference will provide the opportunity to ask some of the hard questions about the value of university-community engagement, its benefits, its costs, and its intended and unintended consequences. These discussions will expand understanding of the complexity of invoking university-community engagement as a strategy for both institutions and communities.

Nearly a dozen of the presentations over the course of the conference will be given by Penn Staters. "Now more than ever, it is important that we show our leadership in this domain. Engaged scholarship is becoming increasingly significant nationally and internationally as a major contributor to student success. Participating in the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference provides a key opportunity for Penn State to advance the global dialog," said Brent Yarnal, professor of geography, immediate past chair of the University Faculty Senate and co-chair of the Faculty and Staff Development Subcommittee of the Council on Engaged Scholarship.

"These presentations represent Penn State's champions of engaged scholarship, many of whom have dedicated years to providing enhanced opportunities for students' learning – which exemplifies not only Penn State's Land Grant mission, but also the importance of generating and disseminating knowledge to the broader community," said Angela Linse, executive director and associate dean of the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.

Linse will be part of a team giving a presentation on institutionalizing engaged scholarship. "Key take-aways from our presentation are the lessons we have learned in the early stages of our journey. In particular, Penn State has done an excellent job of engaging the University community, including involvement across campuses and recognizing the key role of staff as well as faculty and varied administrative units. We think our experiences will save other universities both time and energy as they embark on similar initiatives," Linse said.

Presentations by Penn State faculty, staff and students are:

Institutionalizing Engaged Scholarship: Three Years into Penn State’s Journey
Presenters: Careen Yarnal, Janet Conner, Barry Bram and Angela Linse.
Details: Penn State’s goal of enabling an engaged scholarship experience for every undergraduate student by 2020 has provided an unparalleled opportunity to reimagine engagement. Participants will learn about and discuss leveraging talents and resources across units; capitalizing on centralized/decentralized administration, and scaling up efficiently and effectively, yet with passion and purpose.

Using Digital Badges to Document the Benefits of Engaged Scholarship
Presenter: Kyle Peck.
Details: How can we document and communicate the benefits derived from engaged scholarship? "Digital Badges" are a new technology involving clickable icons that reveal important information about learning. Learn how Penn State is using badges to represent development of systems thinking, ethical decision-making, multicultural awareness, civic responsibility and more.

Assessing Engaged Scholarship Experiences by Degree of Impact
Presenters: Suzanne Weinstein, Adam Christensen, Chas Brua and Chang Liu.
Details: In this session, the presenters will describe a framework for assessing engaged scholarship experiences that provide various degrees of impact for students, faculty, and community partners at a large, de-centralized, multi-campus university. They also will present pilot data, which includes evaluations of several AAC&U essential learning outcomes.

Designing Lean, Scalable and High-Impact Engaged Scholarship Ecosystems
Presenters: Khanjan Mehta and Richard E. Smith Jr.
Details: How does a public university with 80,000 students across 23 campuses develop a lean and scalable ecosystem to provide every student a compelling engaged scholarship experience? This fast-paced and candid talk will chronicle the foundational steps of this ambitious journey to educate a new generation of global social innovators.

Assessing Our Way to Win-Win-Win Engaged Scholarship Value Propositions
Presenters: Nancy Franklin Terry R. Shupp and Jessica H. Arends.
Details: At the crux of successful university-community engagement is a win-win-win proposition across community, students and faculty. This workshop will engage participants in the question of how to effectively assess the impacts of engagement through a sustainability-focused case study and take-away materials that can be used to craft successful assessment strategies.

Leveraging the Power of Stories to Educate Global Social Innovators
Presenter: Khanjan Mehta.
Details: How can stories help students understand the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of community development challenges? The Kochia Chronicles, a series of fictional narratives, take readers headlong into the lives and adventures of people in a quintessential Kenyan village as they usher in an era of design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Tracking and Rewarding Student Engagement
Presenters: Ann H. Taylor and Jeff W. Garis.
Details: The presenters will share the work of Penn State’s Council on Engaged Scholarship to provide every Penn State undergraduate student with one or more engaged scholarship experience while simultaneously tracking each student’s involvement so their efforts can be rewarded, and recognized by them, their families and their future employers.

Development of an "Engagement Review Board" for Appropriate and Ethical Community Engagement
Presenters: Khanjan Mehta, Ruth Mendum and Careen Yarnal.
Details: As Penn State scales-up engagement with communities around the world, how do those involved ensure that the foundational principles of empathy, equity, reciprocity and self-determination are never compromised? Join the presenters for a lively discussion on the architecture of Engagement Review Boards to oversee the ethical and appropriate conduct of community-engaged projects.

Tying it all Together: Teaching, Research, and Community Engagement in an Innovative, Multidisciplinary study Abroad Program in South Africa
Presenters: Neil Brown, Carla Zembal-Saul, Jared M Hammond, Tauheedah H Alexander and Betsy Scarpaci.
Details: Learn about a nontraditional semester abroad experience that integrates teaching, research and community engagement across multiple disciplines relevant to the management of protected areas, economic development of communities surrounding or located within those areas, public education in ecosystem services and natural resource management through a cooperative Penn State/South African partnership.

Global Service-Learning Impacts: Community Perspectives
Presenter: Jessica Arends.
Details: How do community members abroad perceive service-learning programs? What are the community outcomes, be they negative, positive or neutral? This interactive workshop will present community perspectives on service-learning from a site in Africa. Participants will then explore a variety of tools and resources for ethically assessing service-learning community impacts.

Publishing Community-Engaged (Student) Research: Lessons Learned over Six years and Seventy Six Articles
Presenter: Khanjan Mehta.
Details: Integration of original, institution-approved, and publishable research into social ventures can empower community partners, students and faculty, and most importantly, strengthen the projects. This workshop will share practical insights and resources on how to carve out and share aspects of community-engaged work that constitute scholarship and can potentially help other innovators.

For more information about this year' conference, click here.

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