Ds Scholarship

Faculty can now apply to the Engagement Academy

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The application is now open for the Student Engagement Network Engagement Academy, which allows for faculty to spend part of their time developing research, scholarship, creative accomplishment and/or programming involving student engagement.

Since 2017, the Engagement Academy has provided funding, resources and mentoring to faculty and staff who wish to provide meaningful student engagement opportunities and/or develop a research agenda for student engagement at Penn State that can be broadly distributed across the University and beyond.

How to apply

There are two tracks and corresponding applications for the Engagement Academy.

Academy Fellows are one-year recruitmentees who work to develop or enhance student engagement opportunities. The Academy Fellows application can be found on InfoReady.

Those selected as Academy Fellows will receive a $3,000 summer stipend and a project budget of up to $7,000. Over the course of one year, fellows will participate in regular meetings with the Student Engagement Network leadership in an engaged community of scholarly practice. Participants are expected to share their project findings with the broader Penn State community in addition to other scholarly venues as appropriate.

Academy Scholars are two-year appointmentees who work to deepen discourse, practice and recognition of student engagement at Penn State and beyond. Scholars are expected to become participants in the national conversation around student engagement. The Academy Scholars application is open now on InfoReady.

In addition to receiving a project budget, staff selected as scholars will receive a stipend composed of one-half overall time, and faculty selected as scholars will receive one-half release from courses. Scholars are expected to adopt a prominent role in regular meetings with Student Engagement Network leadership and in a community of scholarly practice. They will also document and present their findings to the broader venue Penn State community and others as appropriate.

Questions about the Student Engagement Network Engagement Academy can be directed to Alan Rieck, associate vice president and associate dean of Undergraduate Education, at ajr83@psu.edu.

WPSU Radio Community Initiative aims for regional, judicial impact

Cynthia Simmons, associate teaching professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, is a 2021-2022 Engagement Academy Scholar.

Simmons’ project for the Engagement Academy, WPSU Radio Community Engagement Initiative, began in 2021 with connecting students with residents of DuBois, Pennsylvania, to explore the issues that are important to them and create a two-way relationship so that people feel comfortable contacting the radio station when they have news.

The next phase of the project, Simmons said, is to “help ordinary people understand how to talk about race with people they’ve just met so that when they are called for jury duty, they will be comfortable talking about un bias with other jurors .”

Simmons’ 2021 novel, “Wrong Kind of Paper,” touches on many of the issues she hopes her project through the Engagement Academy will impact: bias, racism, fatal consequences and wrong incarceration.

Simmons said she and the students she’s recruited for the project will also work to create educational materials on the right to serve on a jury. While the defendants have the right under the Sixth Amendment to an impartial jury, recent court cases have affirmed that citizens have a right to serve on juries and juries should reflect the makeup of the community.

“There has to be a way to object when the individual potential juror has a right to a fairly comprised jury and it appears that people of color are being excluded wrongly,” Simmons said. “We’re going to be doing radio stories on the right of citizenship, then coming up with scripts for people to read when they’re called up for jury duty and they see that someone is excluded for apparently racial reasons.”

Simmons said while she has prepared her participating students for the possibility of failure, resilience in the face of failure and the need for flexibility are important qualities for this type of project.

“You have to be willing to risk failure, but care about the project enough to start it anyway,” she said. “The people at the Student Engagement Network are very good at seeing the glimmer of promise.”

About the Student Engagement Network

The Student Engagement Network is a joint initiative between Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs and Outreach and Online Education. The mission of the Student Engagement Network is to advance the power of participation by connecting students with experiences that empower them to make a positive impact as citizens and leaders of the world.


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