Public Scholarship and Tenure/Promotion: Rethinking “Teaching, Scholarship and Service”

Dr. Christopher Meyers

Many of our colleagues have recently taken up the call to be more engaged as public intellectuals – often to great effect. Such outward focus can intellectually inspire participating faculty members, while also enhancing public debate and improving a university’s reputation and local community relations.

Unfortunately, the academy has not determined how to ‘credit’ such work. In tenure and promotion reviews it is most commonly placed under ‘service’, with that category’s correspondingly limited value, even though the work is almost always more intellectually rigorous than standard committee work, even more than some publications.

I will provide a meta-level analysis of the fundamental goals of the academic enterprise and argue that public scholarship is often more effective at fulfilling them than more traditional scholarship – and certainly more than most committee work. From there, I will argue that it should be given greater consideration in reviews and suggest some associated mechanisms.