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Engaged Scholarship

The Crim Center’s affiliated faculty, GRAs and staff actively engaged in robust research projects that are guided by these questions:  What is the value of empirical research to schools and communities in metro-Atlanta and beyond? How do we overcome the challenges to making research accessible and relevant to the  community stakeholders?  How do community stakeholders inform research initiatives and developing lines of inquiry at GSU and visa versa?

The 2011, GSU President, Mark P. Becker, officially launched the university’s strategic plan.  The plan was designed to guide the university on a path to being “recognized as a dynamic academic community where teaching and research combine to produce leaders and create solutions to conquer the challenges of the 21st century.”  Two of the plan’s goals, in particular, are connected directly to the Crim Center’s mission regarding research and scholarship. Goal three of the plan reads: [GSU will] become a leading public research university addressing the most challenging issues of the 21st century. Goal four states: [GSU will] be a leader in understanding the complex challenges of cities and developing effective solutions.

Yet, many people who have done work at intersection of community and the university understand that there are tensions between the above stated goals. For example, communities are often distrusting of universities and their research agendas. Members of these communities may feel that the research is irrelevant to and disconnected from their needs. Furthermore, because of the way that universities have defined research and the associated processes, community knowledge is not often valued as legitimate. Finally, community-based research produced by the university often goes unread and unutilized by the very communities it is designed to serve. These tensions inevitably limit the degree to which universities and communities can work together to solve the critical problems facing their shared world.

As GSU moves forward in the implementation of its strategic plan and continues to position itself as a leading urban research university in the Southeast, nation and world, there are critical questions with which the university community must grapple. What is the value of empirical research to schools and communities in metro-Atlanta and beyond? How do we overcome the challenges to making research accessible and relevant to the  community stakeholders?  How do community stakeholders inform research initiatives and developing lines of inquiry at GSU? Our ability or inability to answer these question will inevitably influence the degree to which the research produced at GSU impacts the decisions of schools and communities in metro-Atlanta and beyond.

In their upcoming book, Pleasants and Salter (2014) explain that many postsecondary institutions have begun to address the question above through engaged scholarship - “scholarly activity that links teaching, research and service and that seeks to provide mutually beneficial outcomes to both university communities and those in surrounding geographic regions. However, much of the promise of that strategy will depend on continued exploration of how the goals and outcomes of this work are equitably co-created and determined.” (p. 5) To that end, the Crim Center is uniquely positioned as a research and service center that helps members of the community and university scholars build equitable and sustainable relationships around research and community based solutions to the challenges facing urban education.

2016 Third International Conference of the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA)

Congratulations to both Dana Salter and Amber Mason on their approved proposal! Both will present in the 2016 Third International Conference of the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA), in Chicago, Illinois. This roundtable forum will on the community-university collaboration efforts of a music education non-profit being incubated at a major Southern university. The presenters will explore questions around designing culturally responsive evaluative protocols that measure the impact of this music education non-profit’s mission to teach, mentor, and inspire the journey of lifelong musicianship for students in urban communities. The conference will take place next April. Their abstract is below.

Please Don’t Stop the Music

Measuring the impact of a music education non-profit’s mission to teach, mentor, and inspire the journey of lifelong musicianship for students in urban communities through a culturally responsive lens.

Guetzkow (2002) outlines four ways arts have been espoused as a solution for societal problems mirrored in urban education: fostering improvement of academic performance and student discipline; revitalization of neighborhoods and promotion of economic prosperity; improvement of physical and psychological well-being; and serving as a catalyst for the creation of social capital and the attainment of important community goals. Despite these claims, there exists a descending trend nationally toward arts instruction in schools. A Southern school board voted in May to eliminate approximately 25 band and orchestra teaching positions. An adjacent district cut elementary band and orchestra all together in 2010, despite protests from students, parents, and the community.  Additionally, evidence suggests that minorities and disadvantaged students are even less likely to take arts classes in schools than other students (Bloom, 2015 ).

These recent trends only exacerbate existing problems in urban education. As an answer to this growing symptom of inequity, music education non-profits have developed to fill the need for music programs in urban schools; especially as research shows these programs increase educational outcomes and contribute to creating well-rounded citizens (Hahn & Truman, 2015 ).  This raises the importance of culturally responsive evaluative practices in order to sustain music education non-profits in urban communities.

Research has explored evaluative practices addressing urban education as it relates to public health and measuring the effectiveness of  cultural and socially focused community development programs (Cohen & Syme 2013; Dillon 2006). Research also shows how culturally responsive evaluation attempts to fully explain the context of programs by honoring culture through the recognition of shared life experience (Frierson et al 2002 ). However, little research has focused on culturally responsive evaluation design for music education programs focused on equity issues in urban contexts.

This roundtable proposal focuses on the community-university collaboration efforts of a music education non-profit being incubated at a major Southern university.  We will explore questions around designing culturally responsive evaluative protocols that measure the impact of this music education non-profit’s mission to teach, mentor, and inspire the journey of lifelong musicianship for students in urban communities.  In light of all of the cuts to arts, we question how do we/should we conceptualize an eval that can help ‘speak back’ to the cuts and thus contribute to expanding equity conversations in urban education, writ large?

 

 

2015 American Educational Studies Association Conference: San Antonio, Texas

Alonzo A. Crim Center Graduate Research Assistant and Educational Policy doctoral candidate, Amber Mason, will present at the AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas on Nov. 11-15, 2015. This year's conference theme is Where is the Love? Pondering Poetics, Passion, and Promise in Education and Social Justice. Amber will present along with an esteemedgroup of doctoral scholars, a symposium titled Doctoral Students Experiences with Pedagogies of the Home, Pedagogies of Love, and Mentoring in the Academy.  This symposium will be chaired by Dr. Jennifer Esposito, an affiliate faculty member of the Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence.  Other symposium contributors include Brian Harmon, Taneisha Lee, Kelly Limes-Taylor Henderson, Anthony Outler, Justina Rodrigues Jackson, Rosalyn Washington, and Dr. Laura Whitaker- Lea.

 

Abstract

This symposium explores the experiences of a diverse group of doctoral students and the female faculty of color mentor who advises them. We began a formal advising “group” six years ago and have developed a multi-layered mentoring system. The more experienced doctoral students (as well as some recent graduates) share in the mentoring load of the newer doctoral students. The group provides intellectual and emotional grounding during the stress of working full time while pursuing a doctoral degree. We share our perspectives on the strengths and challenges of the group and offer recommendations for how this can be utilized as a common practice in graduate school. We advocate for pedagogies of love as a useful method of mentoring. We act and then reflect upon our interactions and practices together (Freire, 2010). We also utilize honest and consistent dialogue with each other since, according to bell hooks (1993, p.122) “Dialogue is a powerful gesture of love.  Caring talk is a sweet communion that deepens our bonds.”

All papers in this symposium utilized the methodology of autoethnography. Autoethnography takes as its premise that ethnography is an embodied process  (Ellis & Bochner, 2006). The researcher is intimately involved in the data collection process and the story that unfolds. We collected our stories through “sociological introspection” (Ellis, 1991, p. 27) which is a method that requires the researcher to reflect on her/his thinking and feelings to better understand lived experiences. We then wrote narratives about our experiences with(in) the multi-layered mentoring group.

 


2015 Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities Conference: Omaha, Nebraska

Crim Center/ Atlanta Police Foundation Fellow Shadonna Davis and Crim Center staff Dana E. Salter and Brian Williams will be presenting at the 2015 CUMU Conference (Oct. 11-13, 2015), whose theme is Love of place: the Metropolitan University Advantage. Their presentation is titled, Tensions around “loving place”: Exploring an university’s perspective of a community, police and university collaboration.

Abstract

Historical and current discourses of policing writ-large, community, and university shape the “love of place” (Case & Hawthorn, 2013; Hackworth, 2007; Leonardo, 2009; Wing, 2015). What happens when tensions stemming from diverging views of “the place” 1) inhibit collaborations, 2) foster quasi-collaboration or 3) redefine the process of collaborations in ways aligned with the dominant narrative.  These tensions do not exist in a vacuum and the critical sociopolitical contextualization of these tensions is often obscured by dominant narratives that “can” reinforce deficit perspectives; particularly when applied to people living in low income communities (Giroux, 2006; Hawthorn, 2013; Leonardo, 2009).  Utilizing engaged scholarship principals allows colleges and universities existing in these communities to play an integral role in promoting and facilitating community engagement in ways that recognize and mediate these tensions (Campana,et.al., 2015; Gibson, 2006 ).

However, little research examines the perspective of the university and its process of navigating the aforementioned tensions.  To this end, this paper is a reflection of Phase One of a multi-phase mixed methods research project conducted in a low-income metropolitan urban community that is a collaboration between police, a local police foundation, and the university to create a youth crime initiative.  We “dig into” the challenges and aforementioned tensions that emerged during the process of “doing” engaged scholarship to re-imagine community oriented policing and construct a community-based youth crime initiative.  This paper elucidates tensions around the “love of place” and concludes with emerging best practices for university-community engagement.

Dr. Heather M. Pleasants, Director for Community Education at the University of Alabama and Dana E. Salter, M. Ed, Community Service Specialist at the Crim Center, published a new edited book titled

Community-based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects: Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities (2014). This unique collection, with contributors from around the world, argues that within community-based digital literacies work, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Where are the stories and reflections of the researchers, scholars, and community workers themselves? We have learned much about contexts, discourses, and the multimodal nature of meaning making in literacy and digital media experiences. However, we have learned very little about those who initiate, facilitate, and direct these community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects.

 

In discussing their book, PleasantPlesantsBookCover_PhotoSwap2(1)-1 and Salter explained the contributions they hope their book makes to emerging research and conversations in the fields of engaged scholarship and community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects. Pleasants noted that “…as we work on the developing engaged scholarship projects within and across our respective disciplines, it’s important to think about our own process as an integral part of developing knowledge about engaged scholarship itself. So embedding from the very beginning a methodological eye toward representing and reflecting on process, such that those reflections can find a place within the scholarly discourse as legitimate results of rigorous inquiry in and of themselves.” Salter added that “…this book includes chapters by community-based organizations who had never written about their work before. So as both fields [engaged scholarship and community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects ] research and examine engaged scholarship, especially across community-university collaborations, it’s vital that all participant’s reflections of process inform emerging working definitions of engaged scholarship. This can be challenging to put into practice, but as we saw with compiling this book, it is vital to this work.” For more information about the this book, please contact Dana E. Salter, Crim Center Community Service Specialist, at dsalter@gsu.edu.
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Georgia State University College of Education professors and Crim Center Affiliated Faculty Dr. Vera L. Stenhouse, Dr. Olga S. Jarrett, Dr. Rhina M. Fernandes Williams and Dr. E. Namisi Chilungu published a new edited book titled In the Service of Learning and Empowerment: Service- Learning, Critical Pedagogy, and the Problem-Solution Project. Unique to this collection are the reported experiences of teacher educators who implement
Problem-Solution Projects in their courses; preservice teachers’ reflections on cohort-driven Problem-Solution Projects; and first-year and veteran teachers stories featuring Problem- Solution Projects initiated by their PK-5 students.
In discussing her book, Dr. Stenhouse explained, “The Problem-Solution Project was inspired by a desire to counteract feelings of helplessness, by cultivating the empowerment of students and their teachers to be involved in service as a vehicle for learning and change. Any opportunity to build a cadre of empowered students and teachers is an opportunity to develop
a better humanity.”

During the April 17, 2014 book launch at downtown Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue Research Library, several teacher contributors to the book discussed their experiences with Problem-Solution Projects, writing the chapters for the book, and how this work connects to the current Common Core Standards curriculum. One participate noted, “This wasn’t easy- I had to let go a little
of the rigid curriculum map I had in my mind. And when I did that and helped the students learn the process for addressing problems they see in their world, the standards happened; they
did research, persuasive writing, media literacy, social studies,
critical thinking and analysis.”
For more information about this book, please contact Dr. Vera
Stenhouse at vsenhouse@gsu.edu