Engaging Epistemic Tensions in Graduate Education

Promising Practices and Processes from the Tulane Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship





community engagement, graduate education, community-engaged scholarship, community engaged learning, Community Engaged Learning, epistemic justice


Productive tensions with traditional academic practices develop from a graduate certificate program in community engagement at Tulane University. The program offers an alternative approach to graduate education by fostering community, epistemic justice, and care for the whole person through sustained interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary conversations and collaborations. A 2021-22 survey of current and prior program participants in the graduate certificate program documents a variety of tensions that arise when the graduate certificate program is compared to students’ other experiences with graduate school at Tulane.


Analysis relies on theories and concepts of epistemic injustice, decolonizing methodologies and community engagement, which enables interpretation of results. We find that results point to the Tulane Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship’s differences in approaches as compared to traditional graduate educational experiences at Tulane, offering insights into more ethical and humane possibilities for graduate education generally as well as particular insights into community-engaged graduate education. These insights would be useful to graduate program directors, graduate students, community-engagement advocates, and administrators interested in connecting their universities to local communities through ethically informed scholarly collaborations.   


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