Publicly Engaged Scholarship in the Humanities, Arts, and Design
A growing number of colleges and universities are expanding and deepening the role that publicly engaged scholarship in the humanities, arts, and design can play in contributing to positive change in the communities and regions within which higher education institutions exist. This paper provides an overview of how this is happening, largely through mutually beneficial partnerships between campuses and communities. Such collaborations aim to leverage assets as well as tackle local problems through the unique capacities of humanities, arts, and design while enhancing faculty teaching and research, preparing students with practical skills needed for jobs, and influencing higher education institutions’ commitment and responsibility to civic purpose. Through the lens of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, the only national coalition working explicitly at the nexus of publicly engaged scholarship and the humanities, arts, and design, author Jamie Haft exemplifies the range of work as it is practiced through courses, projects, programs, centers, institutes, and institution-wide initiatives. Approaches include: bringing students into community settings and community members onto campus; collaborating with communities to work on local problems; creating an institutional home for community-based artists; enhancing civic learning and democratic participation; and changing (and even transforming) higher education in order to create conditions in which publicly engaged scholarship can flourish. Haft describes barriers that must be overcome for the “somewhat idiosyncratic array of scholarly and creative activities to coalesce into a movement capable of helping solve the most serious problems our communities, nation, and world now face,” and offers recommendations to begin to set such change in motion.