Charge for Special Committee on Engaged Scholarship (November 2016)



Advisory Members:


Penn State defines Engaged Scholarship, a specific form of student engagement, as, “out of class academic experiences that complement in-class learning. Engaged scholarship experiences include, but are not limited to:

  • Undergraduate Research
  • Internships
  • Study abroad, study away, and embedded travel courses.
  • Service learning and community based learning
  • Capstone courses with an out of class component
  • Clinical experiences

President Barron introduced “Six Imperatives” to frame priorities for the Penn State community and to provide an important basis for the University’s strategic plan. These include Excellence, Student Engagement, Demographics and Diversity, Student Career Success and Economic Development, Accessibility, and Technology. Thus, “Student Engagement,” is a clear priority and is defined by President Barron as “out-of-class activities that promote student success.” Given this perspective, The Special Faculty Senate Committee on Engaged Scholarship is requested to explore the following goals supporting the engaged scholarship imperative.

Goals of the Committee

  1. Review the current definition for engaged scholarship and refine or revise it, if deemed necessary by the committee. Establish Learning Goals and Outcomes that will be used to assess engaged scholarship at end of the experience. Qualifying engaged scholarship experiences will go above and beyond the normal academic criteria required to earn a degree and should enhance the academic content in the student’s enrolled program. Creative performances, art portfolios, study abroad, study away, research, internships, conservation projects should be considered. The committee should take into account thresholds for time spent for qualifying experiences, and examples of qualifying experiences. The committee should also consider whether degrees that currently require engagement should qualify; as examples, Schreyer Honors College, clinical practicums in College of Nursing, and teaching practicums in College of Education. Routine student campus involvement experiences will not qualify (THON, Student Government, Student clubs or organizations, fraternity or sorority leadership and activities). The intent is to recognize significant academic-related activities above and beyond regular degree requirements and campus life that compliment the earned baccalaureate degree.
  1. Develop a resource reference that will describe formal, standardized ways students will document their engaged scholarship experience. One example could be a capstone paper that documents the experience, describes the relationship of the experience to the student’s particular degree, and discusses how this experience will enhance the student’s professional future. Additionally, the committee should consider requiring supporting letters from supervisors, researchers, or other authorities overseeing the student’s experience in the documentation. It is recommended that the committee consider thresholds for amount of time, or other measurements that document significant engagement for a qualifying experience. (example: 1 semester of research will not qualify, but 2 or 3 semesters might).
  1. Based upon the learning goals and objectives established in Goal 1, and supporting documentation established in Goal 2, allow Academic Colleges and Units to define routine experiences that typically qualify for Engaged Scholarship in their programs. Examples might include research, internships, prolonged study abroad (credit minimum), and meaningful organized volunteer efforts (Habitat for Humanity, Global Brigades, Clinical Experiences, Conservation Experiences, Humanitarian Efforts, etc. all with time minimums).
  1. Identify individuals within colleges (faculty, advisors, or others) who will be used to evaluate and recommend or deny the engaged scholarship experiences for transcript designation.
  1. Recommend a standard, university-wide recognition for engaged scholarship. The Committee should consider the merits of an academic badge, microcredential, or transcript designation that will be presented to the student upon graduation, documenting a qualifying Engaged Scholarship experience. Before submitting a final Advisory and Consultative report, the committee should consult with and review their findings with the Faculty Senate Committees on Undergraduate Education Committee and Curricular Affairs.

Outcome of the Charge

Prepare an Advisory and Consultative Report on this topic as described, due by March 24, 2017, for presentation to the Faculty Senate in April 25, 2017 for their consideration.

Thank you for your participation on this important project.

Sincerely, Jim Strauss
Chair, Faculty Senate