JCES Helping to Boost UA’s Engagement Scholarship Reputation

December 1, 2009

By Daniel Hollander, CCBP Intern

With 45 delegates attending and playing key roles in four important community-based conferences this fall, The University of Alabama is rapidly becoming one of the leading engagement scholarship institutions, according to Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs at the University.

And the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES), published at the University, is a playing a big role in that progress, he said.

“Not only did we have University of Alabama faculty, staff, students and community partners playing major roles at these conferences,” Pruitt said, “we were also able to distribute the latest issue of JCES, which is drawing high praise for its role in advancing engagement research.”

The four conferences were the National Outreach Scholarship Conference (NOSC) in Athens, Ga., Sept. 27-30, which had its largest attendance in history; the Imagining America (IA) Conference in New Orleans Oct. 1-3; the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE) Conference in Ottawa, Canada, Oct. 9-12; and the National Communication Association (NCA) conference in Chicago, Nov. 12-15.

Graduate student Elliot Knight talks with Kevin Bott of Syracuse University at the 10th Imagining America Conference in New Orleans on Oct. 2. The Black Belt Community Foundation in Selma is a partner in the project. Knight presented a poster and made a research presentation on the project. (Photo: Ed Mullins) Dr. Ed Mullins, director of community research and communication at CCBP, moderates a session at NOSC in Athens, Ga., Sept. 29, 2009. He also presented a poster about JCES designed by CCBP interns at the Athens, New Orleans and Ottawa conferences. (Photo: Andrea Mabry)

“UA faculty, staff and students and their partners in the community have embraced the engagement scholarship concept — which focuses campus and community resources on critical social problems — with great enthusiasm, raising our profile among our peers.”

Pruitt is a member of the NOSC Steering Committee, which sets policy and provides leadership. Dr. Cassandra Simon, associate professor of social work and editor of JCES, made presentations about JCES at both the Athens and Ottawa conferences. Dr. Edward Mullins, CCBP director of community research and communication, is a member of the NOSC implementation committee and transition committee helping NOSC with its growing pains. Currently, 10 universities constitute NOSC, but more than 25 more have applied for membership.

Mullins also presented a poster about JCES — designed and produced by CCBP interns — at the New Orleans and Athens conferences. “Once again, the demand for JCES was greater than our supply. Now, as we move to paid subscriptions for the hardcopy and online versions of JCES, we’ll see how it goes,” he said.

Community Affairs, which has fiscal responsibility for JCES, has formed a partnership with the University of Alabama Press to market JCES. “Having a world-class partner like UA Press to help us get the publication to individuals, libraries and professional associations is a critical part of our business plan. We are most pleased to be joining with the University Press in this endeavor,” Pruitt said.

“Response to JCES at these three conferences shows that it is filling a need,” Simon said. “I want to thank our outstanding local production team and the best editorial board in the nation for their hard work.”

Local team members are Mullins and students Jessica Averitt Taylor, assistant to the editor; Brett Bralley, copy editor; Antonio Rogers, designer; and Andrea Mabry, photographer and JCES website producer. The editorial board consists of 52 academics and community partners representing more than 30 disciplines. “We are now receiving manuscripts from outside the United States and will be adding board members from other countries,” Simon said.

UA sent 36 delegates to NOSC from across the faculty, staff and student disciplinary spectrum. Three delegates attended the IA conference, and five attended IARSLCE.

UA’s delegation to Athens was the largest of any university, other than host University of Georgia. Attending from UA were Laurie Bonnici, Wellon Bridgers, Jackie Brodsky, Carolyn Dahl, George Daniels, Matt Demondrun, Bill Evans, David Ford, Janet Griffith, Karl Hamner, Beverly Hawk, Daniel Hollander, Lisa Hooper, Rick Houser, Felecia Jones [Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF)], Erin Kane, Natalie Latta, Andrea Mabry, Will McCracken, Kathryn Merritt, Brice Miller, Jacqueline Morgan, Ed Mullins, Jennifer Patterson, Heather Pleasants, Samory Pruitt, Tiarney Ritchwood, Cassandra Simon, Chris Spencer, Joyce Stallworth, Tommie Syx, Jessica Averitt Taylor, Annette Watters, Muriel Wells, Tari Williams and Michael Wynn.

Graduate student Jackie Brodsky stands before a poster prepared by Dr. Laurie Bonnici’s research team that also included Muriel Wells. Bonnici is an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Studies. The research addresses goals, methods, assessments and outcomes of “Project FIT 4 Retirement,” a student service-learning and community partnership endeavor in which students teach older citizens how to improve their technology literacy. (Photo: Andrea Mabry) Ottawa Parliament Building on Parliament
Hill, the most prominent landmark in
Canada. UA representatives made its
first presentation about JCES to an
international audience in Ottawa.

Elliot Knight, Dr. Hank Lazer and Mullins represented UA at Imagining America. Lazer is UA’s representative to the organization. Knight also was selected as an IA graduate student scholar and made a presentation on the Black Belt 100 Lenses project he is conducting in partnership with BBCF. Mullins presented a poster detailing the development of JCES. UA delegates to the Ottawa conference were Simon, Pruitt, Mullins, Dr. Jane Newman and April Coleman. The first three conducted a session on JCES and the latter two presented their research on the impact of service-learning on traditional learning.

At Athens, UA had four poster presentations and co-administered a panel about UA’s and UGA’s commercial television operations. Dr. George Daniels, UA associate professor of journalism, who summarized his presentation by saying, “WVUA-TV is about teaching logistics, theory, research and online media, not just broadcast journalism and production.” On the panel with Daniels was station manager Roy Clem. Joining them were Dr. Culpepper Clark, former dean of UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences and now dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Laurie Bonnici, UA assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Sciences, presented a poster on her work with Project FIT 4 Retirement and FOCUS on Senior Citizens. Muriel Wells and Jackie Brodsky, UA graduate students, worked with Bonnici and presented at the conference.

“Our goal was not only to teach senior citizens how to be computer literate,” said Brodsky, “but also to get them to become more technologically fluent, which allows them to become self-directed rather than dependent on one-track instruction.

At the JCES displays in Athens and New Orleans more than 500 copies of the journal and related brochures were distributed. Copies were mailed to IARSLCE attendees. Copies of PARTNERS, a feature magazine published by CCBP, and brochures of UA’s engagement activities from several programs and submission guidelines for JCES were also distributed at all three conferences.

Dan Waterman of the University of Alabama Press, who attended the annual National Communication Association meeting in Chicago, reported great enthusiasm for JCES among members of the nation’s largest association for communication teaching and scholarship with whom he talked. “You can expect a good number of submissions from this group of scholars for whom engagement scholarship is a very good fit,” Waterman said.

Simon said agreed. We expect to see a large influx of submissions in the future because of all of this exposure.”

These activities and conference experiences are helping prepare for NOSC 2012 when the University will host the event, Pruitt said.

NOSC 2010 will be in Raleigh, N.C., Oct. 4-6, with North Carolina State University as host, and 2011 will be in East Lansing, Mich., with Michigan State as host.

Imagining America 2010 will be in Seattle, Wash., Sept 23-25. The next IARSLCE conference will be Oct. 28-31, 2010, in Indianapolis, Ind.

National Communication Association 2010 will be in San Francisco, Nov. 14-17.

For more information about NOSC, go to

For more on Imagining America, see http://www.imaginingamerica.org/index.html.

For more on IARSLC, go to http://www.servicelearning.org/events_jobs/slconf_events/index.php?action=detailed&event=1148.

For NCA information see http://www.natcom.org/index.asp?bid=14306.

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