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How do values-based scholarly communication and publicly engaged scholarship align?

Like more traditional forms of research, this kind of participatory research can contribute to scholarly knowledge production and therefore to progression in tenure-track faculty careers. However, it typically has civic aims as well, intending to contribute to the social or political aims of the scholar’s community partners. Publicly engaged research often seeks to engage with broad audiences on issues of social concern and to connect scholarly and public conversations in ways that are fruitful for everyone involved. For example, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission (ETMC) has collaborated with the rhetoric scholar Dave Tell to preserve the history of this teenager’s lynching on the landscape of the Mississippi Delta. 

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For community organizations like the ETMC, scholarly research can offer institutionally recognized methods and data that amplify and add official imprimatur to the community’s traditional, experiential, or collective wisdom. Scholars, including librarians, may bring with them connections and skills that raise the organization’s profile and improve its ability to successfully apply for grants. Academic research can demonstrate an organization’s impact in ways that are legible to foundations and government agencies. Collaborative research can build skills that enable community members to develop and sustain initiatives designed by and for the community. In this way, scholarly communications professionals may also aid the organization in thinking through how to publish, circulate, and sunset projects; preserve any oral histories, artwork, or other material items created; and ensure community control and privacy in the process. 

In the United States, the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) plays an important role in supporting this kind of work. Michelle May-Curry, project manager for the NHA’s Humanities for All initiative, offers more insights into publicly engaged projects and describes the initiative’s online database: Humanities for All

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This OER was supported by a grant from the Scholarly Communication Notebook.

Last updated 2023-04-21.