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ADP Query about Tenure and Promotion Practices that Recognize Democratically Engaged Teaching and Scholarship

By Cecilia M. Orphan, National Manager, American Democracy Project

A signature feature of the American Democracy Project is its focus on creating university institutional intentionality for preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. Tenure and promotion policies and practices that encourage faculty commitment to civic engagement are an important component of this institutional commitment to activating students for lives of engaged citizenship. To this end, we would like to know how your university recognizes civic education and engagement in its tenure and promotion guidelines.

An ADP Coordinator at a school in Tennessee has done preliminary investigations into how engaged learning and scholarship is recognized in tenure and promotion guidelines at a number of institutions. She found that many universities count “community-based learning” in their tenure and promotion policies. As she astutely observes, community-based learning and all that it connotes is important and critical, but it stops somewhat short of describing all that is entailed in democratically engaged teaching and scholarship. She would like to know if there “there are short, pithy, potent terms/phrases (not to replace “community-based learning” but as a conceptual supplement to it) to add throughout universities’ tenure and promotion wording as guidance objectives and touch points?”

As far as we can tell, community-based learning is fairly well embedded in many tenure and promotion guidelines (as are service learning and experiential learning). As we have often observed, though, community-based learning, service learning, and experiential learning are frameworks, processes, tools, and mechanisms for student empowerment and engagement.  The even larger goal, of course, is awakening students to active citizenship and to their responsibilities in and to a participatory democracy. So the question becomes, how do we fully articulate the role of the faculty member in activating students as citizens in a way that extends beyond discrete tools, mechanisms, and specific teaching strategies (such as service learning, community-based learning, etc.)?

The field of civic education uses a lot of different terms, sometimes without much precision. We are particularly interested in collecting precise and descriptive language as guidance for objectives and touch points for tenure and promotion guidelines, but we want to see any tenure and promotion language that refers to educating students for active citizenship.

To contribute to this discussion and share your campus’s practices, please complete this brief, online survey. Thank you in advance for your help. The results will be shared with all ADP campuses. We hope to uncover best-practices for encouraging engaged teaching and scholarship through this query.

To fill out the online query about Tenure and Promotion practices, please visit this website.

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