New KF Working Paper - Because I Can: Exploring Faculty Civic Agency

Because I Can: Exploring Faculty Civic Agency KerryAnn O'Meara Associate Professor of Higher Education, University of Maryland DOWNLOAD this paper. From the preface: This working paper reflects a series of conversations that have been taking place within the Kettering Foundation’s research on the democratic mission of higher education. In our research, we have noticed that many of the most innovative efforts have come from faculty who are deeply frustrated with narrow conceptions of what counts as scholarship and seek to connect their professional work with deeply held civic aspirations. This led us to focus on the faculty as a key strategic agent of change in efforts to strengthen the democratic mission of higher education. In 2008, drawing upon earlier work by Harry Boyte and Scott Peters, we began a series of workshops to gain insight into the motivations and experiences of engaged scholars. In this report, KerryAnn O’Meara captures the common themes and narratives of these conversations. In each of the cases, engaged faculty overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles and persevered in meaningful public work. While O’Meara takes these obstacles seriously, her work provides a rebuttal to the view that faculty are powerless to change institutional systems. As higher education struggles to define its democratic mission, the future may depend upon whether others are able to relate to the civic aspirations of these exemplary scholars. - Derek Barker, Kettering Foundation