Engaging community: organizing within the academy for social change Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Totten, Leah Darcey
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Communication
  • In this study, I explore the challenges, tensions, and opportunities facing a major research-intensive public university related to public service and engaged scholarship as the university system and higher education in general increase emphasis on service and engagement. This project was designed in cooperation with the university's Center for Public Service to help the Center and the university community better understand the challenges, barriers, and opportunities relative to the experiences of undergraduate students and faculty. Of particular interest are: why university students and faculty do or do not participate in public service; how their perceptions and experiences of public service relate to the institution's rhetoric of public service; the implications for the everyday well-being of the people of the university, as well as the university as a community; and the implications for the university and for the Center as they pursue their missions of service and engagement. This project was designed as engaged scholarship to assist the Center in developing strategies that increase participation in and support of public service and engaged scholarship in ways that are more inclusive, democratic, and effective, yet that acknowledge the conflicts, tensions, and dissent inherent in collective action. Therefore, this research is based in post-structuralist theory, utilizing reflexive ethnography and rhetorical analysis methods. The university faces the same challenge as most of public higher education: responding to stakeholders' and the public's demands for increased contribution to the public good while dealing with decreased public funding. The university administration's historical rhetoric has characterized service as valued and valuable, yet there is a disconnect between that rhetoric and faculty and students' perceptions of and experiences with public service and engaged scholarship. Service and engagement have become contested ground, and the related tension and challenges have implications for individual, organizational, and community well-being, identity, and agency.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Communication Studies."
  • May, Steve
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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