Western Kentucky University

ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships

What is the Public Scholar Network?


The Public Scholar Network (PSN) is a network of university faculty, staff, and students engaged in public work through their academic disciplines. The goal of the PSN is to promote networking and public collaboration through community-based research, service learning, community development, and related forms of public scholarship. The PSN is committed to the advancement of public scholarship at WKU through collaborative research, publication, teaching, outreach, and professional development.


Definition of Public Scholarship

The AASCU's Task Force on Public Engagement offers the following definition of the publicly engaged institution: "The publicly engaged institution is fully committed to direct, two-way interactions with communities and other external constituencies through the development, exchange, and application of knowledge, information, and expertise for mutual benefit" (Jones, 2002, pp. 6-7). "At the level of the institution, public scholarship means optimizing the extent to which University research informs and is informed by the public good, maximizes the generation and transfer of knowledge and technology, educates the public about what research the University does, and listens to the public about what research needs to be done. This scholarship contributes to the intellectual and social capital of the University and the State (and larger regions), and includes (but is not limited to) the transfer of knowledge and technology that contributes to improved quality of life for significant portions of the populous." (Hamilton & McConnell, University of Minnesota)


Examples of such scholarship includes:

• Public Research

• Service-learning

• Public education programs

• Outreach initiatives

• Training for both campus and community audiences

• Technical assistance and consulting

It is important to note, however, that there are many things that public scholarship does and does not do:

Public scholarship believes in multivocality. It does not treat the public as having a solitary voice.

Public scholarship is contextual, and conducted with the needs and wants of its public audience. It does not conduct research for the public, but, rather, with the public.

Public scholarship actively engages faculty, staff, and students. It does not prevent them from engaging in rigorous academic scholarship, nor does it take away from their respective disciplinary work.

Public scholarship encourages the notion that the public have a right to not only know about scholarship, but also the right to contribute in a way that benefits communities on multiple scales.

First Meeting

Tuesday, March 18th

Faculty House



What are the Benefits of a Public Scholar Network?

• Networking

• Community-building among public scholars

• Resource-sharing

• Creating a balance between the regional and international missions of WKU

• Providing a forum for discussion

• Opportunities for scholarly collaboration

• Publication opportunities

• Public Research collaborations

• Curricular development



Leah Ashwill


WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships

270-782-0082 | leah.ashwill@wku.edu


Nic Hartmann

Public Scholarship Coordinator

Institute for Citizenship & Social Responsibility

270-782-0082 | nicholas.hartmann@wku.edu

 Last Modified 3/11/14