Penn State Intercom......January 25, 2001

New report promotes increase in
community-based university scholarship

According to a new study by the American Council on Education, a majority of Americans believes that colleges should play an active role in their communities. Ninety-five percent of survey respondents said such activities are extremely or somewhat important to them.

The question facing many colleges and universities is how to compare university outreach programs to the faculty's traditional courses and publications in order to recognize and reward faculty who produce community-based scholarship.

At Penn State, the University Scholarship and Criteria for Outreach and Performance Evaluation (UniSCOPE) learning community has been studying community-based, outreach scholarship since 1998. The group, composed of faculty and administrators from throughout the University, began by examining the full range of faculty scholarship in order to determine the place of outreach within faculty activities. UniSCOPE recently developed a model for increasing faculty recognition for these activities and promoting greater participation in community-based scholarship. They released an online version of the report of their findings and recommendations earlier this year.

Drew Hyman, professor of public policy and community systems, serves as chair of the UniSCOPE learning community. Hyman explained that the goal of UniSCOPE "is to provide a framework for creating an equitable system for recognizing and rewarding the full range of university scholarship. UniSCOPE puts different forms of scholarship into a common context and provides a framework through which everyone throughout the University system can view and develop criteria for comparing the different forms of scholarship."

Hyman said, "The intent of Uni-SCOPE is not to say that we shouldn't be doing traditional forms of scholarship, but to recognize that other rigorous academic work is being done at the University, and each type should be recognized equitably for its primary product. We hope that UniSCOPE will precipitate a University-wide and nationwide process leading to greater recognition of applied work, continuing education, Cooperative Extension, technology transfer, creative works in the media, distance education and other forms of outreach scholarship for their own inherent results. The end result would be a more vibrant and diverse University and more engaged and effective faculty."

The UniSCOPE report is titled "UniSCOPE 2000: A Multidimensional Model of Scholarship for the 21st Century: UniSCOPE Learning Community Challenge to the Penn State Community of Scholars. A copy of the UniSCOPE report may be downloaded from the Web at http:/www.outreach.psu.edu/News/Pubs/uniscope.html or at http://Keystone21.cas.psu.edu/UniSCOPE/.

The report establishes what it calls "a multidimensional model that conceptualizes each of the three mission areas of the University — teaching, research and service -- as the forms of scholarship." By examining the many dimensions of faculty work, including a variety of functions, audiences and media for delivery, the report helps faculty and administrators to recognize, compare and evaluate the product and impact of various activities, including outreach and community-based programs.

The UniSCOPE learning community is supported by the Keystone 21 project, a partnership among the College of Agricultural Sciences, all 24 campus locations, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and the Rodale Institute Experimental Farm.

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