Friday, December 14, 2007

Public Scholarship at CC's

This is really an exercise in idea-stealing, rather than a developed thought.

Have you seen (or do you work at) a cc that does a consistently good job of presenting its faculty in public settings as local experts?

I've been frustrated with the inequities of visibility from discipline to discipline. Some of the evergreen disciplines – including my scholarly home, the social sciences – are virtually invisible to the larger community. I'd love to get a sort of in-house speakers' series going, with members of our faculty presenting one-off public talks on topics that combine their own expertise with popular appeal.

We've done a little of that, and the little we've done has been gratifyingly well-received. But I'd love to encourage a higher profile in this area, since it strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that a community college ought to do. If we can bring local people to campus for talks they'd find interesting, everybody wins. The college gains some local support, the faculty get to show off a little (and make a few bucks), and the community gets access to a wonderful resource that it's already paying for.

If you've seen this done well, what was the trick? I'm casting about for portable best practices, which is a fancy way of saying I'm looking to steal/imitate some good ideas that have worked. We have some wonderful faculty with expertise in areas of wide interest, and I'm tired of that being a relatively well-kept secret.

Wise and worldly readers – your thoughts?