Emory Center for Public Scholarship and Engagement launches, announces new programming

The Emory Center for Public Scholarship and Engagement, established last year to help faculty and students proactively engage in public conversation and increase confidence in the value of scholarship, has announced plans for upcoming programming on its new website.

Led by Kenneth Carter, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology and former interim dean of Oxford College, the center, based at the university’s Oxford College campus and serving the entire Emory community, is organizing events that will draw on the expertise of Emory scholars, empowering them to share their knowledge with local and global audiences.

“Through its programming and outreach, the center will help break down barriers between higher education and audiences outside of academia,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “It will highlight Emory’s eminent faculty, be an outlet for scholarship and creative expression and connect scholars with communities not only in metro Atlanta, but around the world.”

This spring, the center started its programming through a collaboration with on-campus partners.

In March, Carter, whose career has focused on translating scholarly work for public consumption, participated in a panel discussion co-hosted by the center and Emory’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence. “Academic Podcasting: Amplify Your Scholarly Voice” brought together faculty podcasters from several schools to highlight the ways scholars could utilize podcasts to share their knowledge and discoveries with a wider audience.

“Our first collaboration spoke to the purpose of the public scholarship center, helping to showcase that transfer of knowledge from scholars to the public,” says Carter. “It was amazing to hear from Emory faculty about the vast array of ways that we currently share knowledge and insights directly with audiences beyond our campuses.”

The center, which Carter notes is “highly collaborative by nature,” is currently exploring additional engagement opportunities with groups including Emory Libraries and Museum, Advancement and Alumni Engagement, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry and Science Gallery Atlanta to supplement its own, unique programming.

Its flagship event will be a public scholarship festival, set to take place annually on the Oxford College campus. The inaugural event, intended to foster conversations, showcase eminent scholars and engage the public in idea sharing, is scheduled for Sept. 20-22, 2024. Details regarding the festival’s name, speakers and events will be released later this spring, but the festival is already attracting national sponsorships and partnering with local organizations.

Lumina Foundation, whose mission is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy, provided the lead sponsorship for the festival. Lumina works with governmental, nonprofit and private-sector organizations to open educational opportunities and redesign post-high school learning for adults, especially those of color.

The Center for Public Scholarship and Engagement is in discussions with a number of local organizations in the public and private sectors about potential partnerships during the festival. The hope is the festival will provide spaces not just for scholars to disseminate knowledge, but for the larger community to easily access and engage in learning opportunities, strengthening trust in evidence-based research and boosting the region’s reputation as a place for scholarship and collaboration.

“The purpose of the festival is to bring the community together around these critical ideas of open, honest dialogue and the sharing of groundbreaking scholarship. The fact that we have such excitement from partners and local groups reflects the hunger of the community to engage in this manner,” says Carter.

The center recently expanded its staff, hiring Daren Wang as assistant director and Jennifer Trammell as program coordinator.

Wang, a writer, public radio producer and social entrepreneur, co-founded the AJC-Decatur Book Festival in 2005 and served as its executive director until 2017. A “master at showcasing ideas,” according to Carter, Wang has vast experience organizing a highly attended festival that highlights scholarly work.

Trammell, who has worked in enrollment services at Oxford College and most recently the Rollins School of Public Health, has “longstanding relationships with the public school system and understands what is important to the community,” notes Carter.

The center is developing additional programs that will be launched over the coming years. A public scholarship academy, scheduled to begin in spring 2025, will immerse faculty in workshops geared toward amplifying the impact and reach of their research while understanding the evolving challenges of engaging in conversations on research and academia.

“Emory faculty and scholars do incredible work. I am eager to provide a platform where they will be able to share their knowledge with the world — sharing the excitement of things we do with others,” says Carter. “We are at the beginning of a thrilling journey, thinking about what this could become five or ten years from now, and the positive impact and relationship we can foster between thought leaders and audiences outside of academia.” 

Visit the Center for Public Scholarship and Engagement website to learn more about the center and its upcoming programming.

Story by Justin Abraham