Promoting and Engaging in Public Scholarship (P.E.P.S.) Program
Higher education resources are increasingly limited due to declining financial support and revenue that create considerable budget challenges for Extension professionals and campus faculty. Although the very mission of a Land-Grant University is to produce research and translate scientific understanding into teaching and practice, this mission is often impeded by cuts to personnel, funding opportunities, and other resources. As a result, Extension campus and field professionals are faced with constraints on their time that make engaging in research, as well as developing and evaluating programs, challenging. Thus, it is vital for Cooperative Extension to synergize efforts of disseminating science-based programming to the public. Non-Extension research faculty are natural partners in these efforts. Indeed, collaboration between non-Extension-scholars and Extension professionals provides Extension professionals with access to cutting-edge research that is needed to update and validate the educational programming they deliver, while Extension professionals can provide non-Extension scholars opportunities to translate and expose their research to leverage broader impacts.
Public scholarship may be a framework that can promote this partnership by creating the opportunity for dialogue between those interested in research, outreach, engagement, and broader impact activities. According to the Center for Community and Civic Engagement (2018), public scholarship involves "diverse modes of creating and circulating knowledge for and with communities" (para. 2) and is considered a process that integrates community engagement with research, teaching, and service for the public interest (Yapa, 2006). The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (Kellogg Commission, 1999) underscores engaged institutions—those that focus their teaching, research, extension, and service functions on becoming productively involved with communities and putting knowledge to work—as key to addressing societal needs. Further, engagement is put forth as a critical mechanism in changing campus culture to "return to our roots" of public service (Kellogg Commission, 1999). However, public scholarship is also an underlying necessity of all research conducted for the purpose of addressing a need, advancing discovery, making change, or otherwise benefiting society. In fact, the National Science Foundation (n.d.) and many notable funding sources require broader impacts and other dissemination tactics to ensure that the results of funded research do not reside only in journals to which the public does not have access. Public scholarship "does not assume that useful knowledge simply flows outward from the university… it recognizes that new knowledge is created in its application in the field and therefore benefits the teaching and research mission of the university" (Yapa, 2006, p. 73).
The Promoting and Engaging in Public Scholarship (P.E.P.S.) program was created by faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri to facilitate mutually beneficial partnerships between Extension professionals and non-Extension researchers. P.E.P.S. encourages a culture of engagement by (a) increasing the knowledge of public scholarship and highlighting its benefits to Extension and non-Extension stakeholders and (b) identifying barriers to public scholarship and taking steps toward addressing them collaboratively. The initial workshop (part 1 of an inter-institutional collaboration) is available here. Evaluations for the program are available here. If you facilitate a P.E.P.S. session at your institution, please email feedback evaluations to Kale Monk (the project PI) at firstname.lastname@example.org.