Promoting Applied Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion

Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting, 2010


Sunil Khanna (Oregon State U)


Linda Bennett (U Memphis), Christina Wasson (U North Texas), and Sunil Khanna (Oregon State U)


Since 2003 the Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology
Programs (COPAA) has been actively involved in responding to tenure and promotion concerns. COPAA worked to develop meaningful ways of defining, documenting, evaluating, and promoting diverse forms of applied scholarship and to raise awareness and recognition for applied work among department chairs, deans, and members of tenure and promotion committees. COPAA’s efforts have so far resulted in five organized sessions at the annual meetings of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) and a policy recommendation document on promoting applied scholarship for tenure and promotion. Participants on this panel shared their experiences and recommendations for preparing tenure and promotion dossiers, describing applied scholarship, and evaluating applied work for tenure and promotion.

Summary of Discussion

The panelists discussed COPAA’s interest in tenure and promotion; personal experiences of going through tenure process; and overview of document on T&P prepared by COPAA. The COPAA sessions on T&P included 25 participants representing 14 universities. The 1st session focuses on examples of T&P process from various departments. The session highlighted the varying nature of tenure and promotion across departments and universities, which had important implications for design of COPAA guidelines document on tenure and promotion. The 2nd session included administrators as participants. The session discussion focused on the importance of external reviewers; how to evaluate collaboration and co-authorship; how community engagement is evaluated; challenges of joint appointments; faculty should get to understand the culture of their dept, college, university. The 3rd session included participants from a range of different career points. The session highlighted such issues as constructing a narrative of career trajectory; challenges of changing chair/dean/provost; importance of turning applied projects into publications; self-promotion; and documenting all processes. The 4th session – another administrator session – focused on the importance of defining scholarly work and service – this varies by institution; challenges of having junior faculty doing community-based work and getting credit for it for tenure – they need to be carefully mentored in this; gray literature; and selecting appropriate external reviewers. The 5th session focused on the importance of the 3rd year process reviews for preparing dossiers and giving faculty understanding of the tenure process.

The 2010 T&P session discussed the following key issues – personal experiences of applied anthropologists undergoing tenure and promotion, especially preparation of T&P dossiers; summary of the COPAA T&P Guidelines (available on the COPAA and CoPAPIA websites); assessing and documenting impact of applied scholarship; contribution of applied work to teaching; and guidelines for hiring mid-career practitioners, who may have non-linear careers, as documented in NAPA Bulletin 26.