Imagining America: Reciprocity & academic unconferences

232 views
181 views

Published on

"Academic Conferences, Unconferences, & Reciprocity:
The risks and rewards of emerging forms of community engagement." A presentation at 2013 Imagining America conference at the Warehouse in Syracuse, NY. Presenters: Kristin Medlin (Communications & Partnerships Manager, Institute for Community & Economic Engagement, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) Sarah Bratt and Stephanie Prato (MLIS students at Syracuse University). Emily Janke could not be at the presentation, but her paper provided the foundation for the core ideas for discussion (Director, Institute for Community & Economic Engagement, University of North Carolina at Greensboro),
Including community partners – or community “voice” – is essential to enact the core community engagement principles of reciprocity. Increasing the extent to which academic conferences honor participant voices is important for enhanced knowledge generation as community perspectives are intended to transform scholarship as well as practice and outcomes for all stakeholders. Unfortunately, community participation at conferences continues to be weak. Traditional conference models often discourage reciprocity, revolving around keynote speakers, hierarchical planning, and a passive participant experience. To what extent are academic scholars open to the transformation that is possible when all partners genuinely and earnestly seek to understand, value, respect, and incorporate community partners into plans for community engagement conferences? Are we willing to change the process for identifying conference hosts, conference planners, session formats, locations and venues? In what instances do we narrow our objectives for a conference on community engagement to achieve academic outcomes alone – and at what cost?
Providing an applied perspective to address these questions, participants will discuss a case study from Syracuse University, in which a group of MLIS students came together with librarians and other professionals around Syracuse, New York to create the 2013 unconference on Spaces + Places.With no keynotes, no registration fees, and no pre-planned content, the unconference empowered attendees to share their voices and solicit feedback from the community on specific issues. Anyone at Spaces + Places could present on a topic or facilitate a discussion. The event successfully pulled together disparate sectors of the community around a central theme, inspiring attendees to solve problems and make connections. Key Unconference Success Factors
1. Preliminary needs assessment (solicited ideas from OCPL Library directors, students, and academic, public, and school library community) to determine conference theme. 2. Use crowd-sourced problem solving, but make decisions with a small executive planning group. 3. Provide platform for pre-event dialogue such as social media and collaborative technology platforms (wiki, google docs, twitter) 4. Find the right space and enforce the “vote with your feet."

Published in: Education, Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
232
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Imagining America: Reciprocity & academic unconferences

  1. 1. Academic Conferences, Unconferences, & Reciprocity The Risks and Rewards of New Forms of Community Engagement Emily Janke, Director, Institute for Community & Economic Engagement, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Kristin Medlin, Communications & Partnerships Manager, Institute for Community & Economic Engagement, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Sarah Bratt, MLIS student, Syracuse University Stephanie Prato, MLIS student, Syracuse University
  2. 2. Agenda ● Introductions ● Walking the Talk - a UNCG case study ● Rethinking Academic Conference outcomes ● Reframing Reciprocity ● SYR’s unconferences
  3. 3. Rethinking Traditional Models of Academic Conferences In what capacities have you witnessed community colleagues at academic conferences? © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  4. 4. Walking the Talk - UNCG Case Study “Would you mind sharing this with the [consortium] listserv? I believe I shared this opportunity that I've been developing with [name], Senior Scholar at the [National] Foundation and developer of this year's [conference] at [an out of] State University. It would be great to meet with you to discuss the best strategy to ensure that this meeting is immediately useful to community partners. The senior scholar] will be sending some speaking points that will be common to the [Institute-based] discussions, but there is room for us to shape it for our own local folks. Would you be willing to help to do this? Perhaps even help to facilitate? I realize that I should have asked this prior to sending this announcement out... Hmm, if you're interested, I can add you and the [consortium] on the flyer before I send it to the [consortium] and any further... your thoughts?” © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  5. 5. Walking the Talk - UNCG Case Study The next day I received an unsettling email simply stating: “Please call me at [phone number].” I called and the effect of the conversation was that the program planning committee was not willing to co-sponsor the meeting. They did not believe that it would serve their mission: to be directly useful to nonprofits. In my earnestness to provide a high-quality experience in collaboration with a prestigious international conference, I had failed to partner with the individuals and organizations that such a hub meeting was developed to serve. The irony of trying to plan a conference on communityengaged partnerships without community partners was embarrassing, to say the least. © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  6. 6. Foundations Mutual Benefit: suggests a win-win relationship. Speaks to the outcomes anticipated and expected by all parties involved in the activity, initiative, or relationship. (implies equitable academic AND community outcomes) Reciprocity: the seeking, recognizing, respecting, and incorporating the knowledge, perspectives, and resources that each partner brings to a collaboration (Janke & Clayton, 2011, p. 3) (implies balanced power and a process of co-creation) © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  7. 7. Traditional Academic Conference Outcomes ● ● ● ● ● ● sharing and generating ideas institutional and individual prestige culture eminence advancing the disciplinary community cosmopolitan values socialization and norms about “successful scholars” To what extent are community-engaged scholars and activists repeating the same patterns, enacting and reifying the same schema, in conference planning? © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  8. 8. But where are all the community partners?!? Are academic conferences are set up to maximize the time of community participants? ● cooperation vs. collaboration ● participation vs. inclusion Community colleagues often find sessions to be too theoretical, or alternately, too context specific and thus not of much practical use No benefit = Disengaged attendance or no attendance at all! © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  9. 9. Paradigm Shift To what extent are academic scholars open to the transformation that is possible when all partners earnestly seek to understand, respect, and incorporate community partners into plans for community engagement conferences? Are we willing to change the process for identifying conference hosts, conference planners, session formats, locations and venues? In what instances do we narrow our objectives for a conference on community engagement to achieve academic outcomes alone—and at what cost? © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  10. 10. Underlying assumptions that derail “transformation” (Driscoll, 2010) ● fear (traditional research would become undervalued and no longer accepted) ● worry (research/scholarship will lose quality and rigor) ● avoidance (society’s problems and issues feel insurmountable); overwhelming (preparation takes significant time); discomfort (requires new kinds of relationships) ● woe (lack of preparation for fostering community relationships) © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  11. 11. Reciprocity is Fluid “transformational” Janke, 2013 CAN BE VALUE NEUTRAL “transactional” © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  12. 12. Read more: Janke, E. (2013). Increased community presence is not a proxy for reciprocity. E-Journal of Public Affairs, 2(2). Retreived from http://ejournal.missouristate.edu/2013/08/increasedcommunity-presence-is-not-a-proxy-for-reciprocity/ © Janke & Medlin, 2013
  13. 13. Participation at Every Step Reciprocity in the Planning Process
  14. 14. Spaces & Places: an Unconference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v =pJqXTi2h1zg&feature=youtu.be
  15. 15. What is an Unconference? Source: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3155/2464629784_afd3054962.jpg
  16. 16. Why have one? ● Sharing ideas ● Connecting communities to knowledge networks ● Engaging the community ● Sharing your voice
  17. 17. Who’s involved? The organizers4 MLIS Students from Syracuse University. The community who attended: ● Academic Librarians ● Public Librarians ● School Librarians ● Special Librarians ● Vendor Representatives ● SU Faculty ● Students!
  18. 18. How? Before the event ● Build community buy-in ● Plan, plan, plan ● Get the conversation started ● Find sponsorships and partners ● Market your event!
  19. 19. How? During the event 1. Pick session topics 1. Create the schedule 1. Break into groups 1. Repeat step 3! 1. Reconvene and share out
  20. 20. After Spaces & Places ● Feedback ● Evaluation http://bit.ly/13lhtWJ
  21. 21. “I found the conversations stimulating and very thoughtful. The mix of practicing librarians, graduate students, and faculty was very engaging, because we talked about important issues from several different perspectives...the feedback from the whole group was overwhelmingly positive. I hope that we can facilitate future unconferences at the iSchool; it's a powerful way to generate conversations about important issues.” - Barbara Stripling President of the American Library Association
  22. 22. Call to action Thank you! Questions? Stephanie Prato SU Student scprato@syr.edu www.scprato.com Sarah Bratt SU Student sebratt@syr.edu @sarahsbratt

×