2024 Engaged Scholarship Showcase Emphasizes
Community-Engaged Teaching and Research

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Faculty, staff and students shared their research and teaching related to engaged scholarship during the Engaged Scholarship Showcase on April 11, in the Bryant Conference Center.

Part of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships’ Excellence in Community Engagement Awards, the annual showcase combines faculty, staff and student initiatives in community engagement centered on “The 4 Rs” — Relevance, reciprocity, research and resilience — that form the foundation of engaged scholarship.

Following a musical presentation from the UA Flute Choir, Dr. Drew Pearl, director of Community Engagement Research and Publications at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, delivered the welcome.

Each presenter addressed an area represented by one of “The 4 Rs” through their research or teaching.

Several students discussed how they achieve relevance, resilience and reciprocity in their work. For example, Mallory Harrison, a member of the UA Flute Choir and Public Engagement Learning Community (PELC) Fellow, shared how she is collaborating to expand music engagement.

“We really enjoyed going out into our community with the intent to educate and the intent to listen and the intent to learn,” Harrison said.

Edwin Lee, a doctoral student in communication and information sciences and a Community-Engaged Learning Fellow (CELF), discussed the importance of resilience in community-engaged research through his presentation on community engagement and critical reflection of Tuscaloosa’s civil rights history.

Dr. Felicia Smith, a PELC Fellow, expanded on reciprocity through her research in math education. Smith participated in a professional development opportunity to explore math pedagogy for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, from which she shared the reciprocal outcomes.

“We were able to build this community where we’re sharing information and sharing knowledge and sharing what does it mean to be responsive to our students,” Smith said.

Faculty and staff also discussed ways their participation in community engagement professional development programs furthered these principles within their teaching and research.

For example, Dr. Serena Blount, senior instructor and associate director of undergraduate studies in the Department of English, presented on the role of resiliency in community engagement by sharing how her participation in CELF has helped her expand community-engaged learning opportunities within the English department through the development of a new introduction to grant writing course and expanding internship opportunities for students.

“I’ve worked to develop a literature for conducting the [internship] program, when to advertise our internships, how to screen students in advance of making referrals, and then how to make the referrals,” said Blount. “This I will develop into a handbook or manual during the next academic year.”

Diana Quito, a doctoral student in educational psychology; Emily Locke, a doctoral student in anthropology, and Tanvi Padalkar, a master’s student in anthropology, presented their research related to the Carnegie Elective Classifications Research Lab. Quito, Padalkar and Locke are assisting with the data analysis of Carnegie applications for community engagement to operationalize how community engagement is prioritized and defined across universities.

“We’re trying to focus on how colleges and universities examine community engagement and how it is tailored to their specific contexts,” said Padalkar.

The showcase concluded with an informal question-and-answer session to continue discussions on engaged scholarship.