The Evolution of a Community-Engaged Scholar


  • Mara C. Tieken Education Department Bates College



Mara Tieken is the recipient of the 2016 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty. The award recognizes exemplary community-engaged scholarly work across faculty roles. The scholarship of engagement represents an integrated view of faculty roles in which teaching, research/creative activity, and service overlap and are mutually reinforcing, is characterized by scholarly work tied to a faculty member's academic expertise, is of benefit to the external community, is visible and shared with community stakeholders, and reflects the mission of the institution. Community engagement is defined by relationships between those in the university and those outside the university that are grounded in the qualities of reciprocity, mutual respect, shared authority, and co-creation of goals and outcomes. Such relationships are by their very nature trans-disciplinary (knowledge transcending the disciplines and the college or university) and asset-based (where the strengths, skills, and knowledges of those in the community are validated and legitimized).

Dr. Tieken was selected from an outstanding pool of finalists because her work exemplifies the award’s criteria. She approached her work with rural schools by validating the knowledge assets in the communities she worked with to undertake research that addressed social and racial justice and equity in those communities. She brought her students into a pedagogy shaped by participatory epistemology in which they and the community partners they work with are knowledge producers and active participants in building a wider public culture of democracy. And through integrating her faculty roles, she contributed significant service with the partners she worked with. Further, she is an agent for change on her own campus, working to create an institutional environment that supports community engaged scholars.

Dr. Tieken’s emergence as an engaged scholar describes the critical nature of deep relationships with community partners, the importance of engagement being part of the socialization and training in graduate education, the significance of mentors, and the ways that institutions of higher education cultivate scholarly innovation by attending to the kinds of commitments and structures that support, recognize, and reward community engaged scholarship. As an engaged scholar, she pursues community engagement to advance knowledge that can address global social issues as they are manifest locally, and as perhaps the best way to advance knowledge in ways that fulfill the democratic purposes of higher education. 


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