Inspired by a comment by Matt L. on the previous post, I suggested that the relatively newly institutionalized requirement for faculty to show evidence of “public engagement” was a good thing, although as usual I’m skeptical that it’s something that we’ll have to do on our own time and our own dimes, like most of the rest of the “service” requirement in our annual faculty evaluations. But is this an expectation that the rest of you are held to, or is it just something that’s happening at my Morrill Land Grant Aggie school, where public engagement was part of the mission statement going back in 1870?
So I want to collect some evidence on the question of public engagement. If you would, in the comments tell me
- What kind of institution you serve
- What sujbect/s you teach
- Whether public engagement is an expectation in your department, and
- What specific activities count as public engagement
In my response to Matt, I listed just three of the things I’m more familiar with as public engagement: “do one or two public lectures a year, or sit on a local preservation or planning board, or say ‘yes’ when a fraternity or sorority asks us to talk to them about an issue.” I just listed two things that I’ve done in the past, and another that I know my colleagues in public history do. (As an early Americanist, I get asked to speak to genealogical societies every couple of years, and as a women’s historian and a historian who teaches and writes about race, I am most years asked to do something for African American History month in February and women’s history month in March.)
I’m sure that the rest of you can offer a much more creative and comprehensive list, so for our junior colleagues and for those of you who are possibly facing this category of public engagement for the first time in your careers, leave a comment and help out! Even if public engagement doesn’t “count” very much for our individual advancement, it probably “counts” a lot more in terms of raising public awareness of faculty in the humanities and the real-world value of the work we do.