Volume 12, Issue 1     Editorial (1)
Catalysts for Curricular Change The Spring 2008 Issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly (AEQ) includes this special section: Interdisciplinary Pedagogy to Foster Health Initiatives. It represents a new focus in the United States on advancing the pedagogy of community engagement across disciplines under the auspices of health initiatives. We asked for novel and creative approaches to integrating health concepts among student disciplines that enhance their electronic, written, oral, listening, non-verbal, and visual communication, in a variety of contexts. The outcome of our request indicates that the scholarship of interdisciplinary community engagement is at various developmental stages across the country. Authors Lane and Handron propose transformative theory to guide framing the pedagogy of interdisciplinary community engagement. California State University faculty members offer a learner-centered case example to guide curricular design. Otterness, Elison-Bowers, and Reischl discuss the need for curriculum changes to integrate community engagement around interdisciplinary pedagogy. Fontaine relates how a curriculum can be arts-based in design. Faculty from the Medical University of South Carolina and Low Country AHEC describe the creation of a curriculum that incorporates interdisciplinary community engagement to generate health outcomes that reduce obesity risks for youth in an inner-city elementary school. The University of Northern Florida article communicates how technology can be used to sustain partnerships for service-learning. Other university efforts are researching the learner outcomes from these interdisciplinary initiatives: 1) Boise State presents gender differences in complementary and alternative medicine usage, 2) Morehouse presents the relationship of time dose affect on student learning, and 3) East Carolina University presents changes in student attitudes. Thus, we see that interdisciplinary pedagogy to foster health initiatives is complex, multi-contextual, and requires examination of the many layers for design, implementation, and evaluation. It is, however, the manner in which our world operates today…….interrelated globalization……where the integration of one discipline into another provides synergistic resources for resolving the issues that face our current and future society. Our own experience with interdisciplinary collaboration for healthcare design has been multi-layered and in a constant state of metamorphosis. The collaborative structure is redefining itself in the process of meeting needs presented through community engagement. The curriculum becomes an artist’s palette that sharpens its image in response to the interactions of faculty, students, and community. This phenomenon of improvisational curricular development is not unique to our experience alone, but evidence exists from these articles and other national and international activities that interdisciplinary pedagogy and community-engaged scholarship is advancing as a model of discovery learning. On another note, Dr. Judith Ramaley, President, Winona State University, spoke at the Fifth Annual East Carolina University Conference on Service-Learning in March of 2008. Our interpretation of her future vision for service-learning in the 21st century is that of an evolution towards an academic model of community engagement. New skills will be needed by faculties which capitalize on the opportunities for authentic learning moments through community collaboration. The integration of economic, educational, and community development within a learning paradigm requires a framework of mutuality and reciprocity. We seek discovery in a structure of learning that promotes ambiguity, where there are no clear definitions of what the questions of learning are and where disciplinary lines become transparent. The reason learning becomes ambiguous is that it is an improvisational process. The relationship between the faculty, the learner, and the content is in an on-going state of rapid flux. A learning framework for community engagement requires a base in all courses to the point of regional immersion. The outcomes of this type of learning partnership result in changes among faculty and community as much as among the students. It will take a different organizational structure for the 21st century University. We are posed at a unique time where there is a generational influence assembled that can work synergistically to create a new learning reality. As continuous learners, we are engaged in a mutual process of discovery learning. The articles presented in this edition give credence to building the new paradigm for the 21st century University. However, according to the Carnegie Educational Foundation, some barriers must be overcome. Carnegie is now selecting colleges and universities for a new elective community engagement classification. The classification is awarded based on criteria regarding the nature and extent of their community engagement. The universities and colleges selected show alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. As stated by Amy Driscoll, an associate senior scholar at the Foundation who directed the pilot project, "While we found some wonderful examples of deeply engaged institutions, we also found some conspicuous omissions… For example, even among the most compelling applications, few institutions described promotion and tenure policies that recognize and reward the scholarship associated with community engagement." In addition, community engagement did not appear as a priority in academic institutions’ search and hiring criteria (Carnegie, 2007). Despite these issues, our edition indicates those faculties remain dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary pedagogy with community engagement as it relates to health initiatives. Further evidence of the growing paradigm shift is provided through upcoming international conferences. For example, the All Together Better Health IV 2008 conference to be held in Stockholm and Linkoping, Sweden, focuses on interprofessional learning collaborations that are delivered as partnerships with the community to improve the delivery of healthcare and create innovative health environments. Another conference of interest is the 2nd International Nurse Education Conference to be held in Duplin, Ireland. The spotlight is on Research and Innovation in International Nurse Education with a leading topic being interprofessional education. Given the wide array of pedagogical activity surrounding interdisciplinary pedagogy and community engagement, Academic Exchange Quarterly has decided to extend this Feature Edition concentration to another volume in Spring 2009. The feature editors, Susan Martin Meggs and Annette G. Greer, invite submissions which continue this innovative pedagogical shift. Annette G.Greer,PhD, MSN, RN, is Clinical Assistant Professor for the Office of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Education, East Carolina University, NC; Susan Martin Meggs, MS, MFA, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Human Ecology, Department of Interior Design, East Carolina University, NCCFP for the next HEALTH-2 issue Interdisciplinary Pedagogy to Foster Health Initiatives Spring 2009.
See all published HEALTH articles.