Tenure and Activism

Here’s a great piece from Conditionally Accepted about the way being on the tenure-track makes us conservative. It’s wide-ranging and important, thinking about identity and many related issues. Read it all. Here’s the bit that especially dovetails with my interests on public writing, activism, and the academy [my emphasis]:
More generally, I bear the burden of fear and doubt because the institution itself does not explicitly reward activism, advocacy, and community engagement.  I appreciate informally being told teaching a community-based learning class looks good, or that open access research is the way of the future for scholars.  And, at a minimum, there is little sense that such efforts would hurt one professionally (though I remain skeptical when such claims are made regarding activism).  But, formally, these initiatives are not valued; they are not explicitly mentioned in the tenure expectations outlined in our faculty handbook, nor is there a longstanding tradition of favorably evaluating community engagement and advocacy.  As I told my colleague, it’s great that the Center offers so much to faculty who engage the community in their work — even offering a small stipend to those who go through training on community-based teaching; but, short of the institutions explicit valuing of such efforts (i.e., counting it toward tenure), only a few brave souls will venture into them.
As I’ve said many times –  If we believe that something is important, we have to make it count for tenure, promotion, and hiring. 

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