ISSN: 2162-9161


From the Editor

Andrew P. Lokie, Jr
Missouri State University

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eJournal of Public Affairs, editorial, website, civic engagement, citizenship, public affairs, democracy, public engagement, literacy research

The eJournal of Public Affairs is pleased to announce our new website that will house all previously published and upcoming content. This new site is designed specifically to give readers a more attractive, easy-to-use interface with plenty of options for accessing premier public affairs articles written by scholars across the nation.

Andrew P. Lokie, Jr

Image of Andrew Lokie

Andrew Lokie is an associate professor at Missouri State University. He developed and taught a graduate Library Science course and Instructional Technology Methods course for the College of Education. His more than 20 years experience, including work at Ohio and Bucknell Universities before arriving at MSU in 2001, has involved administrating instructional technology applications across classrooms, multimedia labs, and production services. He has published articles in the Journal of Interactive Instruction Development and in the College & University Media Review. He served on the Board of Directors for the Consortium of College and University Media Centers and has presented at national conferences including the American Democracy Project, Computers In Libraries, Campus Technology, American Library Association, and Society for Applied Learning Technology. Other interests, besides family time, include hiking, rafting, gardening, yoga, and wrestling coach.

Intro Essay

Image of a money tree on the cover of the public engagement and literacy research issue

introductory essay, public engagement, literacy research

As guest editor, I welcome readers to this themed issue of the eJournal of Public Affairs focusing on publicly engaged scholarship and literacy research. The contributing authors—including myself—are deeply committed to the methodologies of public engagement, which not only inform our literacy research but are significant for the literacy learners with whom we work and the contexts in which we choose to work. As the authors describe, we value community engagement and dialogue because, together, they create spaces in which literacy scholars can understand and make claims about the diverse and complex forms of literacy that individuals use to make meaning and construct representations of their worlds. We are pleased to have access to a forum like the eJournal to make our case for publicly engaged scholarship. 

Carloyn Colvin

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Carolyn Colvin is an Associate Professor in the Language, Literacy, and Culture Program in the University of Iowa’s College of Education.  For 20+ years, Colvin has worked in collaboration with immigrant adults/parents in a rural school district where 60% of the children speak a first language other than English. She directs an adult literacy tutoring program with the school district and recruits preservice teachers to serve as tutors.  Her research focuses on understanding the communication practices of immigrant parents and teachers as they forge educational pathways for immigrant children/youth. Her recently published chapter, Contesting the Myth of Uncaring:  Latina/o Parents Advocating for Their Children, appears in The Latina/o Midwest Reader (2017) edited by Jiménez, Vaquera-Vásquez, and Fox (U of Illinois Press). 


Ashley N. Patterson, The Pennsylvania State University 
Valerie Kinloch, University of Pittsburgh
Emily A. Nemeth, Denison University

Image of a hands coming out of a tree - article cover of the public engagement and literacy research issue

civic engagement, critical service learning, urban, K-12 students, community

 In her 1993 book, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Maya Angelou poignantly describes the importance of giving to others—giving that enriches life and symbolizes love, liberation, and humanity. Drawing on Angelou’s belief that “giving liberates the soul,” this article pushes for a more critical and nuanced way of understanding what it means to “give” and “receive,” as realized through a social justice framework. This is particularly important in work that involves young people and adults advocating for sociopolitical change within historically disenfranchised communities. To insist on a nuanced understanding, this article analyzes qualitative data from a three-year service-learning and community engaged initiative, “Bringing Learning to Life,” within an urban school district and community in the U.S. Midwest. It addresses the following questions: What educational, social, and political possibilities emerge when young people and adults collaborate on publicly engaged scholarship in urban communities? How do they refrain from negative narratives of giving/giver and helping/helper and, instead, reconcile such dichotomous positions through acts of solidarity around shared concerns? How do they see themselves as agents of change? What are the stories they tell?

Ashley N. Patterson

Image of Ashley N. PattersonAshley N. Patterson is an Assistant Professor of Languages and Literacies in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State University where she teaches a variety of courses addressing literacy issues through a social justice lens. Her research focuses on intersections of educational experiences and identity; she inquires into the ways in which self-understandings impact educationally-based experiences and, conversely, how those experiences affect the ways individuals understand themselves.

Valerie Kinloch

Image of Valerie Kinloch

Valerie Kinloch is the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education and Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Her scholarship examines the literacies of youth and adults inside and outside schools, with a particular focus on race, place, and equity. Among her other publications, she is the author of Harlem On Our Minds: Place, Race, and the Literacies of Urban Youth, which received the 2012 Outstanding Book of the Year Award from the American Educational Research Association. Currently, she is working on projects related to education, leadership, and community engagement.

Emily A. Nemeth

Image of Emily A. Nemeth

Emily A. Nemeth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Denison University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses in literacy, community engagement, equity pedagogies, and queer theory. Her research explores the literacy lives of adolescent youth in community contexts and the learning opportunities afforded by expanding space and literacy resources through service-learning.

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teacher education, community engagement, multicultural teaching

Approaches to education founded on the principles of community engagement provide faculty and students with a means for encouraging greater communication between universities and communities. Community-engaged teaching practices are particularly important within university-based teacher education programs. The increasing divide in the United States between the demographics of pre-service teachers (PSTs) and students in K-12 schools presents teacher educators with unique challenges: to prepare PSTs to work with diverse populations of students and to consider the community when developing lessons and curricula. This literature review examines current research and theory related to PSTs’ conceptions of the relationship between teaching English language arts and their knowledge of the community. Few of the studies reviewed inquired into the identities and experiences of PSTs before they entered teacher education. By evading a consideration of the experiences and backgrounds of their PSTs, however, teacher educators who endeavor to build greater connections across communities and their students fail to model the type of reciprocity necessary for community engagement, potentially contributing to PSTs’ limited understandings of diverse populations of students when they enter schools as teachers.  This article highlights ways in which dialogue and reciprocity serve as methods for teacher educators to address and overcome some of the critiques and challenges of community-engaged teaching.

Meghan E. Barnes

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Meghan Barnes is an Assistant Professor of English Education at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She currently researches community-engaged approaches to teacher preparation and preservice teachers' beliefs about discussing polemical topics with diverse populations of students.

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civic engagement, participatory research, youth, education

In this article, the authors examine opportunities and tensions that arose when youth co-researchers, collaborating in two in-depth, qualitative, participatory research studies, challenged modalities for sharing literacy research findings in academic forums such as peer-reviewed journals and at professional conferences. The authors frame the youths’ contributions as new forms of civic participation, highlighting the ways in which the youth co-researchers—Black youth and youth of color in a large city in the northeastern United States—sought to: (1) share research findings with “kids like us,” and (2) make the research relevant across multiple contexts. The article discusses implications for researchers and educators who seek to involve youth as designers, creators, and distributors of publicly engaged knowledge with communities grounded in partnership and reciprocity.

Joanne E. Marciano 

Joanne E. Marciano is an assistant professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University, and a former high school English teacher of 13 years in New York City. Her research engages qualitative participatory methodologies to highlight opportunities for supporting youth’s literacy learning across contexts of urban education, secondary English education, college access, and teacher education. A central part of her research agenda involves highlighting opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse youth to examine how their schooling experiences are influenced by tensions that emerge when students encounter educational inequities. Joanne is co-author (with Michelle G. Knight-Manuel) of College Ready: Preparing Black and Latina/o Youth for Higher Education - A Culturally Relevant Approach (Teachers College Press, 2013). She has also published research findings in Urban Education, English Journal, The Urban Review, and Literacy.

Vaughn W. M. Watson

Image of Vaughn W. M. WatsonVaughn W. M. Watson is an assistant professor of English education at Michigan State University. Previously, Vaughn taught high-school English for 12 years. Vaughn's research examines how youth of color, making meaning of diverse literacies and identities across their creative and artistic artifacts and practices within and beyond school contexts, reframe understandings of changing mandates for student work, teacher accountability, and civic learning and action. Vaughn has published research findings in journals including American Educational Research Journal; Review of Research in Education, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education; Urban Education, and Literacy.

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Honduras, publicly engaged scholarship

In this article, the authors examine the concept of “reciprocity” in publicly engaged literacy scholarship. The idea of reciprocity suggests that projects using a publicly engaged research model should comprise two-way partnerships that strive to balance benefits to the researcher and to community partners. The authors (a researcher and a community partner) explore this dynamic by considering their own experiences working on projects with groups of youth in Honduras and in the United States. The groups shared their cultures and experiences through writing and technology, and challenged ideas about security and public space. Given the national, racial, cultural, economic, linguistic, and power dynamics inherent in these publicly engaged scholarship projects, reciprocity was a theme to which the authors paid close attention and about which they were in constant discussion.  The authors address a series of questions about reciprocity and scholarship, and find that through their experiences they have learned to define both concepts in ways that are not traditionally measurable and cannot be mapped out as directional.

Kate E. Kedley 

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Kate E. Kedley is an assistant professor in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Education at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Kate’s research interests include public engagement, LGBTQ and young adult literature, language education, and social and educational movements in Honduras. Additionally, Kate extends interests in social movements in Honduras with solidarity work. Previously, as a doctoral student at the University of Iowa, Kate was a 2014 Obermann Fellow and participated in the Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy. Kate also served as a steward in the Graduate Student Union and as a member of the Advisory Board for the Women’s Resource and Action Center. Kate’s secondary teaching experiences include language arts classes at schools in Iowa, Arizona, and Honduras.

Héctor Efrén Flores A.

C:\Users\Charlie\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\REV Hector.jpgHéctor Efrén Flores A. is a lawyer, social activist, educator, and poet in El Progreso, Honduras. Along with five published works of poetry and prose under his pseudonym “Chaco de la Pitoreta,” Héctor participated in two large-scale investigations and co-authored studies about gangs, the prison system, and education in Honduras. Héctor is a co-founder of Atrapados en Azul, HN, a collective of local artists who bring poetry and music to the streets in order to reclaim public spaces from police brutality and violence. He does solidarity work with Garifuna and Tolupan indigenous people, efforts through which he participates in human rights training and community organization. Professionally, Héctor’s works in the areas of popular education and social promotion for the Jesuit educational organization Fe y Alegría.

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civic engagement, writing, public scholarship

In this article, the authors examine a common question that emerged within a large writing-across-the-curriculum program and throughout multi-disciplinary collaborations: How do faculty and students step into the roles of public scholars and public intellectuals? Whether the focus is on science communication with the general public or an initiative to connect public audiences with the arts and humanities, interest and need are joining forces in higher education. To take advantage of this, the authors—two faculty members at a large research university—developed and taught an undergraduate course called “Public Intellectuals/Public Scholarship.” This semester-long course involved a group of undergraduates, all from different majors, in reading a broad sampling of texts from the arena of public scholarship and public intellectuals. Through these readings, the students explored issues of both public and personal importance. By considering audience, purpose, context, and form, the students then wrote several pieces for a public audience, resulting in publishable products. Students went from being fearful of the idea of being a public intellectual to discovering that their words did matter in the public space. This article itself exemplifies a form of public scholarship as the authors describe the course they taught in order to share it—and its implications—with the broader educational public.

Amy Lannin 

Amy Lannin directs the Campus Writing Program at the University of Missouri and is an Associate Professor of English Education. Her work focuses on writing instruction and assessment across the curriculum and within disciplines.

Nancy West

Nancy West is a Professor of English who specializes in Victorian, Film, and Media Studies. She is currently writing a history about the concept of charm in American culture.

Michael Shafer 
Ken Gilmore
Cecilia Orphan
Anne Bannister

Image of the Warm Heart logo for a video in the Social Entrepreneurs issue

social entrepreneuer, social entrprenneurership, Thailand, Warm Heart, charity, poverty, public affairs

At 55, nearing the end of an academic sabbatical, Michael Shafer decided that the microenterprise work he had started in Thailand had become more like a life’s calling. He resigned from Rutgers University and started the Warm Heart project with his wife Evelind Schecter. The Warm Heart organization was established by Michael and Evelind in rural Thailand. In this informative interview, Michael shares his experience and understanding about the impact of social entrepreneurship. Interview responses by: Ken Gilmore, “What motivates a scholar to become a social entrepreneur?”; Cecilia Orphan, “Is social entrepreneurship an effective way to alleviate poverty?”; and Anne Bannister, A photo essay providing insight into an undergraduate intern’s experience working in the Warm Heart project.

Michael Shafer Michael Shafer

Michael Shafer is a serial social entrepreneur, although he heard the term only a decade ago. He started Africa ’73, Inc., his first endeavor, at 17 and hasn’t looked back. Since then he has spent 25 years at Rutgers University teaching international political economy and writing books, 20 years consulting around the world on development and higher education reform, and 15 years training young people to become social entrepreneurs. At 55 he decided it was time to put his money where his mouth was, resigned from Rutgers and started Warm Heart with his wife, Evelind Schecter. For the past 5 years, he has applied body, soul and research design skills to improving the quality of life in a very poor, but very beautiful part of northern Thailand.

Ken Gilmore Ken Gilmore

Professor Ken Gilmore teaches International Relations and Political Economy at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC.

Cecilia Orphan Cecilia M. Orphan

Cecilia M. Orphan is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying the role of universities in democracy. Prior to coming to Penn, Ms. Orphan directed the American Democracy Project, a civic engagement initiative of AASCU. Ms. Orphan serves on the board of The Democracy Imperative and the editorial board of Perspectives on Urban Education. Ms. Orphan is an Imagining America Publicly Active Graduate Education Fellow and a visiting scholar for NERCHE’s Next Generation Engagement Project. Ms. Orphan won the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement and holds a BA in political science from Portland State University.

Anne Bannister Anne Bannister

Anne Bannister is a senior at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. In May 2014, she will graduate with a B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Communications. In the fall of 2013, she interned at Warm Heart, Thailand as Photographer and Director of Communications. Her internship was featured in Southwestern University’s Alumni Magazine and the experience is the basis of her upcoming photography and mixed-media exhibition. In the summer of 2011, Bannister served as official photographer for a delegation from Fort Hays State University on a tour of partner Universities across China. After graduation Bannister plans to pursue a career in photography and hopes that with this art form she can inspire social change.

Nancy Thomas, Tufts University
Jodi Benenson, University of Nebraska Omaha

Image of the cover for The Evolving Role of Higher Education in U.S. Democracy

political engagement

The higher education community has long accepted that colleges and universities serve two distinct but complementary purposes with respect to student development: academics educate students for individual prosperity and well-being and for public participation in democracy and civic life. Appropriately, both roles get recalibrated periodically based on societal needs – witness current shifts in credentialing, fields of study, online learning, and opportunities for people who have historically been left behind – all with the view to educating more Americans for the jobs of the future and for their personal economic security. This piece reflects on the evolving role of higher education in educating for democracy.

Nancy Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. Her work and scholarship center on higher education’s democratic mission, college student political engagement, free speech and academic freedom, and deliberative democracy on campuses and in communities. She is the author of multiple book chapters, articles, and the monograph, Educating for Deliberative Democracy, an issue of Jossey Bass’ New Directions for Higher Education series. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Public Deliberation and a senior associate with Everyday Democracy. She received her bachelor’s degree in government from St. Lawrence University, a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, and a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jodi Benenson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her primary research interests include social policy, nonprofit organizations, civic engagement, and inequality. Previously, Jodi was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. At Tufts, she worked on several projects in the areas of youth civic engagement, political learning and engagement in higher education, and national service and employment. Jodi received a B.S. and M.P.A. from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in social policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.



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