Nick Rowland, an associate professor of sociology and environmental studies, wants to transform undergraduate research fairs into inclusive environments for all types of engaged scholarship. The public events would incentivize students to latch onto opportunities for both personal growth and external recognition. “Engaged scholarship experiences are often the emerald of an education. If these are educational experiences of a lifetime, then we should start treating them that way.” Rowland plans to recruit a team of interns to develop a series of publications on best practices and conduct research at live fairs, incorporating feedback from “participant-judges.” “Standards developed in this line of research will be adopted widely as more institutions transition to engaged scholarship fairs. But, until they do, the fair itself would stand as a blue and white beacon, signaling what is unique about the undergraduate experience at Penn State.”
Peter Aeschbacher, an associate professor of architecture and landscape architecture, aspires to create a framework for designing and implementing engaged scholarship projects. With the right blend of creative activity, scholarship and meaningful engagement, these student initiatives can pave the way for positive change. “The process of inventing, refining and applying new forms of knowledge builds civic responsibility, public purpose, personal capacity and a confidence in one’s ability to realize meaningful, substantive change.” By harnessing design theory, Aeschbacher said he aims to enhance the accessibility of engaged scholarship and foster relevant partnerships—all with an attention toward serving the public interest. “My goal is to strengthen the substance and effectiveness of Penn State’s engaged scholarship efforts by developing a more robust intentionality and accountability for its goals, process, and outcomes.