PLANNING THE FUTURE OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Left to right: Eric Mlyn, Susan Lozier, Dennis Clements, Louise Meintjes and Michelle Lyn
Last week, the DOCE invited Susan Lozier, chair of the newly appointed steering committee for Duke’s new strategic plan to an informal lunch conversation with our faculty advisory board. Provost Kornbluth has charged the steering committee with leading an eighteen-month process beginning with conversations with faculty, staff, students and alumni to discuss the future of our university. The DOCE has taken initiative to host two of these conversations: one on March 19 with engaged faculty representing nine of Duke’s 10 schools and one on April 2 with members of the University Council on Civic Engagement, which includes the staff leadership of many of Duke’s civic engagement programs and initiatives.
It was observed that if the current plan of Knowledge in the Service of Society has prioritized the development of undergraduate programs like DukeEngage, a 21st century plan should focus on enhancing faculty research and teaching, as well as civic engagement opportunities for students in our graduate and professional schools. The significant work involved in creating networks and connections in community-based research needs to be recognized as part of faculty labor and be rewarded through course relief or tenure and promotion points. A large number of our faculty already engage in this kind of community-based work as part of their research, but it needs to be valued and recognized as a necessary and relevant part of their knowledge production. The new strategic plan should address the structural barriers that currently impede Duke from officially recognizing and rewarding the civic engagement of Duke’s faculty, students, staff.
The DOCE has taken the lead in incubating several initiatives to help amplify and encourage civic engagement among our faculty, staff and alumni as well as students. This past year, we created Duke’s first Engaged Faculty Fellowship, with support from the Office of the Dean of the Trinity College. Ten of the twelve interviews we produced of the past year as part of our Civic Lives series discuss how Duke faculty, staff and alumni are using university resources for the good of society. Through features like our new Engaged Blue Devil of the Month that appears in our monthly newsletters, our weekly blogs and our annual report, we feature the important and often grassroots work in which so many members of our Duke community are actively engaged. Our new strategic plan is an opportunity for Duke to amplify and expand the civic-mindedness of the many members of our university community.