Background on the Theme

For additional background on the IARSLCE conference theme, Connected Knowing, read our first post from KerryAnn O'Meara, the 2012 conference program chair

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Harold McDougall, Howard University School of Law

Professor McDougall will be giving a keynote address at the 2012 IARSLCE Conference

"The cause of social justice needs people and organizations trained in the “science of social change,” said. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He knew many people who had “found intellectual growth and spiritual fulfillment” on this path. It provided the opportunity to be part of a campaign, to meet people who were about something, as well as to advance through these kinds of contacts, that lifted so many of us.

Today, we need a great social movement to reclaim our youth-- youth marginalized by poverty and prejudice, youth marginalized by militarism and commercialism, youth marginalized by selfishness and greed. We can do this in our schools, between our schools, outside of and alongside our schools, building a New American Community, with our children, using an approach I call the Invisible College.

The Invisible College is a collection of teachers, students, writers, storytellers, scribes, artists, and community organizers interfacing with the community at large, networking, helping people tell their stories to each other as well as to leadership types, building and rebuilding civic infrastructure. The Invisible College is a living network that educates and empowers, supports and develops. It is not weighed down by bureaucracy; it’s alive, organic, and moves quickly.

University students mentor high school students, who in turn mentor younger students, encouraging all to read, write, speak, interview, and perform some public service, possibly interning with a civic organization, bringing youth to such groups.

The students collect stories of community and people, go-to people and networkers as well as established leaders, learning how narrative relates one community to another, becoming lifelong learners through a process we call “learning how to learn from experience.”

“Learning how to learn from experience” is at the heart of connected knowing, in my view. I will try to establish those connections in my remarks to the conference on Sunday, September 23, discussing my own sojourn in the Invisible College and how that helped me produce the book, Black Baltimore: A New Theory of Community.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lorilee R. Sandmann Professor, University of Georgia

Connectedness in Knowing and Leading:  Are We Ready for the Effort?
Lorilee R. Sandmann
Professor, University of Georgia

Connected knowing rejects isolated, competitive modes of learning.  In an era when the population is more diversified and social issues no long stop at the door of the educational institutions, the world is calling for connectedness for solutions.  Harold Garfinkel (1967) once stated that what we know always depends on where, when, and with whom we know.  That is situated, subjective, and collaborated knowing.  It is not just playing “the doubting game” (Elbow, 1973, 148) – knowledge generation takes far more than polemics.

As John Saltmarsh has posted in his blog, the next generation of engaged scholars is more diverse, more tied to the communities, more tuned to social justice, and more collaborative.  Such scholars are connected knowers.  Rather than researching about communities and teaching to students, we want research with and through communities and teach with and through our students, as allies and advocates as we seek answers through diverse ways of knowing for the betterment of society.  On the other hand, we are tempted by the comfy idea that “great minds think alike,” a culture that elevates individuals over the collective, and a discourse that obscures unification with uniformity.  In the mist, we lose sight that “knowledge is made by people together…. to specific places with histories and cultures, and to different perspectives” (O’Meara’s blog).  True connected knowing does not come naturally or easily.  Spelman (1988) noted that knowing others, even those who are much like us, is strenuous.  Connected knowing is “a rigorous, deliberate, and demanding procedure, a way of knowing that requires work” (Clinchy, 1996, p. 208).

As a firm believer that leadership matters, I can’t help thinking about connected leading, an idea intrigued by the notion of connected knowing.  Rustled with many notions such as leadership for social justice, transformational leadership, shared leadership, and collective leadership, the field of educational leadership is definedly unsettled.  How can leadership ensure and promote connected knowing within campuses and with communities?  My study of the Carnegie Foundation’s community engagement classified institutions reveal that leadership for community engagement is a multi-layered, connected function running along the contour of essential expertise, rather than fixated with positions and pinned to individual leaders. 
Excited as I am, I believe the 2012 conference is a live example of connected knowing.  Differences are not something that should separate a common cause if we acknowledge and appreciate them.  The real danger is a blindness and unwillingness to dismantle the wall that divide us and block the connections.  Are we ready and committed to the effort that such connected knowing and leading will take?

Clinchy, B. M. (1996). Connected and separate knowing: Toward a marriage of two minds. In Goldberger, N. R., Clinchy, B. M., Tarule, J. M., & Belenky, M. F. (Eds.), Knowledge, difference, and power: Essays inspired by women’s ways of knowing (pp. 205-331). New York, NY: Basic Books.
Elbow, P. (1973). Writing without teachers. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Garfinkel, H. (1967).  Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Spelman, E. (1988).  Inessential woman: Problems of exclusion in feminist thought. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dwight E. Giles, Jr. PhD., NERCHE, UMass-Boston

Dwight is a Professor of Higher Education Administration and a Senior Associate at the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) at UMASS Boston. He is also the 2009 recipient of the IARSLCE Distinguished Research Award.

Connected Knowing has been a central element of service-learning research efforts from the beginning. As a co-author of the first national service-learning research agenda that was developed by the National Society for Internships and Experiential Education, our primary purpose for furthering service-learning research was to inform and improve our practice (Giles, Honnet & Migliore, 1991). For me, IARSLCE continues that tradition as a research organization that strives to be ‘practitioner friendly’. 

Given the split in the academy between research and practice, theory and applied knowledge, there are few forums where these two can come together and inform each other. Our field and research questions have evolved over the last two decades from the ‘simple’ question of Where’s the Learning in Service-Learning?” to much broader questions encompassing all aspects of community engagement including impacts and roles of community partners, the development and understanding of engaged scholarship and institutional engagement.  I look forward to the 2102 conference to further the connections between knowing and doing, to push the boundaries of our field beyond our current understandings of what types of scholarship count, and how to connect with additional ways of knowing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cecilia M. Orphan, Ph.D. Student, Higher Education, UPenn

Cecilia M. Orphan, Ph.D. Student, Higher Education, University of Pennsylvania
Twitter: @CeciliaOrphan

When I was a student at Portland State University (PSU), I served as a teaching assistant for University Studies (UNST), the interdisciplinary general education program at PSU. The UNST program explores the following four goals in its courses: Communication, Critical Thinking, Social Justice and Diversity. In this role I assisted students in the creation of online portfolios that demonstrated their learning. This was before there were ‘plug and play’ portfolio platforms and my students had to build their own websites. Through this process of web design, they made virtual connections in the form of weblinks between the assignments they had completed and the four UNST goals, and then they reflected on their learning with one another. I quickly discovered how powerful this mode of teaching can be for producing robust learning outcomes for students. This was my first experience with connected knowing.

For the last two years I have worked with the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE)’s Next Generation Engagement Project (NGE). The Director of the project, John Saltmarsh, challenges NGErs - a group of engaged scholars and practitioners, early career faculty, and graduate students - to expand traditional academic notions of expertise to include the knowledge of students and community members, and to incorporate online tools to aid in the production of engaged scholarship. We use web 2.0 tools to connect with one another when we are not able to meet in person and these tools create a constant conversation in which multiple voices are heard. We participate in connected knowing.

The theme of this year’s IARSCLE conference, “Connected Knowing,” describes what I believe will be the future of American higher education. No one can deny that the academy is changing. Our students are becoming more diverse. Tenured faculty members are decreasing in number and non-tenured, adjunct faculty are being hired to replace them. Each year online, for-profit education is claiming larger shares of our student body. Public support and funding is rapidly disappearing. And the civic engagement movement is gaining momentum and transforming the way universities and colleges interact with their communities. Confronting these challenges is the premise of AASCU’s Red Balloon Project that seeks to “redesign undergraduate education for the 21st century.” The leaders of Red Balloon are using networked knowledge generation because they believe that the best way to confront these challenges is to use technology to work collaboratively, share expertise and devise solutions. 

Of course the idea of crisis in American higher education is not new. The history of the academy has witnessed scores of people predicting crises, and despite this history, higher education remains intact. We will survive this current crisis as well. But there are a number of important questions that we will need to answer as we progress. How should students be treated and viewed? Are they clients and customers buying a product, or are they co-creators of an academic environment? I would argue that when students are engaged as co-creators, they learn and grow much more than when they are treated like customers. How should we interact with the communities surrounding our universities? Despite all of the calls for reciprocity in community/university relationships, you will be hard pressed to find universities that equitably engage their communities and allow neighborhood leaders not only to participate in university projects but also to design and assess these initiatives. The next phase of the civic engagement movement must reckon with these power imbalances so that community members are invited to oversee university engagement. How will we treat adjunct faculty who have very little if any say in university operations and yet at many public universities now outnumber tenured faculty? Despite the important questions raised by the growing presence of adjunct faculty about academic freedom and governance, I don’t believe that it is realistic to think that they will disappear. In fact, if current trends are any indication, their numbers will only continue to grow. So in the interest of creating democratic institutions, I firmly believe that this group must be considered vital contributors to connected learning.

With all of these complex changes taking place, we have the opportunity to model and engage in a process of connected knowing as we advance toward a more democratic, inclusive and educative culture in higher education. When I think back to my days at PSU, I still remember the way my students’ learning came alive when they were able to reinforce the mental and virtual pathways and connections between their assignments and their understanding of the course goals. This process of connecting and co-creation is of benefit to us all especially as we consider how we will survive the current crisis in higher education while better serving democracy and our students.