The Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty

The annual Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty recognizes a full-time faculty member who is pre-tenure at tenure-granting campuses or early career (i.e., within the first six years) at campuses with long-term contracts, and who connects their teaching, research and service to community engagement.

The Lynton Award emphasizes community-engaged scholarly work across faculty roles. The scholarship of engagement represents an integrated view of faculty roles in which teaching, research/creative activity and service overlap and are mutually reinforcing, is characterized by scholarly work tied to a faculty member’s academic expertise, is of benefit to the external community, is visible and shared with community stakeholders and reflects the mission of the institution.

Community engagement is defined by relationships between those in the university and those outside the university that are grounded in the qualities of reciprocity, mutual respect, shared authority and co-creation of goals and outcomes. Such relationships are by their very nature trans-disciplinary (knowledge transcending the disciplines and the college or university) and asset-based (where the strengths, skills, and knowledges of those in the community are validated and legitimized).

In short, the domain of knowledge has no one-way streets. Knowledge does not move from the locus of research to the place of application, from scholar to practitioner, teacher to student, expert to client. It is everywhere fed back, constantly enhanced. We need to think of knowledge in an ecological fashion, recognizing the complex, multifaceted and multiply-connected system by means of which discovery, aggregation, synthesis, dissemination and application are interconnected and interacting in a wide variety of ways.

– Ernest Lynton, “Knowledge and Scholarship” (1994)

Engaged scholarship is the co-creation of knowledge that shifts the position of students and community groups from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers and partners in problem-solving. Engaged scholarship is the generation of new knowledge through the combining of academic knowledge and community-based knowledge, eliminating a hierarchy of knowledge and a one-way flow of knowledge outward from the college or university.


 

The norms of engaged scholarship include:

  • Participatory epistemology: the co-creation of knowledge that shifts the position of students from knowledge consumers to knowledge producers and shifts community groups from being subjects or spectators of the research process to collaborators in knowledge generation and problem solving.
  • Collaborative research: recognizing an ecosystem of knowledge and acknowledging that the generation of new knowledge requires that academic knowledge be combined with community-based knowledge, eliminating a hierarchy of knowledge and a one-way flow of knowledge outward from the college or university.
  • Scholarly artifacts as publications: expanding the understanding and valuing of scholarly products beyond publication in highly specialized disciplinary journals.
  • Knowledge experts from outside the academy (peers): along with a valuing of the knowledge and experience that both academics and non-academics bring to the processes of education and knowledge production comes the reframing of who is a peer in the peer review process and the recognition that in certain circumstances the expert will be a non-credentialed, nonacademic collaborator.
  • Trans-disciplinarity: recognizing that interdisciplinary inquiry remains bounded by academic disciplines and that trans-disciplinarity is fundamentally different in that it combines multiple disciplinary knowledge within the college or university with knowledge that exists and is generated outside the college or university.
  • Impact: academic impact is conceived as “the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes” (NSF) and is shaped by examining the nature of the system within which knowledge is transformed into public policy or social action and how scholars engage others to transform research into actionable and useful knowledge.

These definitional characteristics distinguish community engaged scholarship from other forms of community and public scholarship:

  • Community-engaged scholarship and community-based scholarship: while scholarly work, whether through teaching or research, may be based in a community, locating the work in a community often means student/research placements, and transactional relationships rather than collaborative, reciprocal partnerships essential to community engagement.
  • Public scholarship and publicly engaged scholarship: Public scholarship typically refers moving beyond the walls of the academy to share knowledge generated in the academy with the public. Publicly engaged scholarship refers to moving beyond the walls of the academy to collaborate with community partners to generate knowledge.
  • While publicly engaged scholarship may be considered public scholarship, public scholarship is not necessarily publicly engaged scholarship.
  • While both community-based scholarship and public scholarship are important activities and should be valued by institutions of higher education, they are not fully representative of the kinds of activities recognized by the Lynton Award.

Additionally, the Lynton Award conceptualizes scholarly engagement as grounded in a set of assumptions about knowledge and social change, explicitly advancing social justice in a diverse democracy. Community engagement addresses questions of power, privilege, politics, positionality, identity, and implication and assumes that:

  1. The public purposes of higher education are knowledge creation and dissemination, AND cultivation of democratic values, skills and habits – democratic practice
  2. The norms of democratic practice reflect the workings of privilege and power in time and place, and often lead to injustice at the individual, institutional and societal level.
  3. All scholarship examines, or reifies by non-examination, the workings of power and privilege as context and constituent of knowledge creation and dissemination and therefore has a political agenda.

Thus, engaged scholarly work must critically examine (historical, racial, economic, gender, social, etc.) contexts of knowledge production — past, present and future — as part of every scholarly project.