When Kevin Foster and Kevin Kecskes took the podium this morning to kick off the final day of the 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference, I was full of anticipation.
This was the keynote event especially for faculty.
Even though Kecskes started off a little slow with a lot of apologies about how difficult it is to give a keynote to a crowd at the early 8 a.m. hour, he and his first namesake, Kevin Foster delivered BIG!
Multi-speaker keynotes or panels can sometimes be very dry and quite frankly, boring. There’s one PowerPoint after another PowerPoint and if there’s not a real compelling moderator to tie together, the conference session falls FLAT.
From review of the models of community engagement to the continuum of change, Kecskes and Foster opened up a discussion that we hope to continue this afternoon. They inspired me to think again about what I do as both a community engaged scholar and as a faculty member in journalism.
I left this morning’s session with an expanded vocabulary to apply to what I do with new words such as contextual intervention and structural transformation.
“This work is political,” said Kesckes, who serves as associate provost for engagement and director of community-university partnerships at Portland State University. “Change is political.”
While Kesckes made some great points, I believe I connected with Foster even more, in part because he was very transparent about his journey as a scholar from historically underrepresented population.
“I’ve had to figure out how to make it in the academy, ” Foster admitted as he shared his experience knowing that he had to be better than all of his colleagues (presumably because of his engagement scholarship approach)
Because community-engaged scholarship is so new to the academy, it does require a sales job.
One of the selling points that was raised at today’s kick-off is the fact that community-engaged scholarship is not easier, but harder to produce than more traditional scholarship or research. It requires the extra effort be made to include the community in all phases of the scholarly process.