The Department of Communication brought together two units at the University of Washington: the School of Communications and the Department of Speech Communication. This 2002 merger gave the faculty the opportunity to reflect on the core principles underlying their philosophy of graduate education. One of these principles is public scholarship. The department faculty and students take their research beyond the confines of the academy to engage in constructive dialogue not only with academics but also with other citizens, diverse communities, and political and cultural leaders. Such dialogue increases the potential transformative power of communication scholarship, while also fulfilling a central mission of a public research university.

Many other academic institutions have renewed their emphasis on the public mission of the university. One at the University of Washington is the Simpson Center’s Connecting with the Community institutes for doctoral students.

Additional sites of interest include the following:

Campus Compact
Civic Practices Network
Emory University Center for Public Scholarship
Rogue Scholarship Project

Faculty Statement on Public Scholarship
In 2004, the faculty approved a formal statement on public scholarship. This statement is designed to clarify the meaning of this principle for faculty and students who wish to carry out public scholarship projects. The statement reads, in part:

“Scholarship and citizenship go hand in hand. Although scholars in higher education ultimately work on behalf of their communities, their nations and the world, much of their scholarship stays within the traditional research process, subject to peer review and publication in discipline-based journals and books, although available for review and application by persons and institutions outside of the academy. Scholars also directly engage the world beyond the academy, drawing on scholarship developed in the rigor of disciplinary tradition. Productive efforts of this kind, herein called public scholarship, may take many forms, such as popularization of research-based ideas in a variety of media and formats, facilitation of deliberation about such social values as equality, justice and freedom, and explanation or appreciation of texts, concepts, values or events. Such efforts can promote constructive dialogue with and among students, citizens, diverse communities, and political and cultural leaders.”

Additional language in the faculty statement can be used for purposes of evaluation for tenure or promotion, and the full statement is available on request from the department.

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