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Taking stock, at ACES symposium, of ‘why engaged scholarship matters now’

In a keynote address for the April 13 American Scholars symposium "No Ordinary Time: Why Engaged Scholarship Matters Now," scholar-activist George Lipsitz explored obstacles to mutually respectful collaborations between the academy and its community partners.

Students and faculty involved in the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) initiative held a daylong symposium April 13 to reflect on the first of what will eventually be two dozen new campus courses with campus-community partnerships at their core.

George Lipsitz
George Lipsitz

In the keynote address, George Lipsitz, professor of black studies and sociology at UC Santa Barbara, characterized this moment in history as one of deep crisis for U.S. society and its public-education system. The scholar-activist spoke of obstacles to working “respectfully and with dignity” with community partners to generate socially useful knowledge and scholarship, and how the university has played a role in perpetuating a system of exclusion.

Later in the day, students reflected on strategies for creating successful campus-community partnerships, and how their work with community partners, via new ACES courses, has shifted their expectations of how the university can and should serve public needs.

“We’re now asking the question ‘How do we sustain what we achieved?'” ACES director Victoria Robinson said of the conversation. “There’s such a disconnect between semester-based work and the long-term needs of the community partners that we work with.”

For one report on Lipsitz’s keynote, see Ph.D. candidate Dave Malinowski’s post on the Berkeley Language Center blog “Found in Translation.”

Video of the inaugural ACES symposium, “No Ordinary Time: Why Engaged Scholarship Matters Now,” will be posted on by the end of April.
For more on engaged-scholarship efforts at Berkeley, including those in the American Cultures program, see this NewsCenter article.