Can public value help you get promoted?
Last year I presented to faculty from University of Minnesota's Research and Outreach Centers (ROCs) about communicating the public value of research, outreach and engagement scholarship for promotion and tenure purposes. Since then I've had others ask me about whether and how the public value approach can be useful in documenting scholarly accomplishments.
The guidance I came up with is pretty similar to what I wrote about here: begin with the end in mind. Basically, a scholar who aims early on for public value-level impacts and outcomes, and then evaluates and documents those outcomes, will have built a strong case for her work's public value. Because each step in creating public value involves scholarship--of research, engagement, teaching, and evaluation--the scholar who meticulously documents her contributions should, in the end, be well-positioned to defend her record.
I know, with all of the demands on outreach and engagement faculty, this is easier said than done. I know clients and community-members expect these faculty to engage in activities that are hard to classify as scholarship. But I do think that leading with the end game can help a faculty member prioritize for success.
I also wrote in this blog entry about ways that the public value approach can help close the loop between research and engagement. The research-design-engagement-evaluation loop illustrated in that entry provides a number of opportunities for a scholar focusing on engagement work--in contrast with outreach education--to document her contributions and impact. How did you contribute to (1) the research that underpins the program curriculum, (2) the program design, (3) the engagement itself, (4) the program evaluation? It seems to me that viewing your engagement program in the context of the loop can bring to mind scholarly contributions that you might not have thought to document. Perhaps it can even lead to a more complete promotion and tenure case.