Idea grew from participation in SEC Faculty Travel Program
The University of Alabama College of Education has forged an innovative research collaborative with Auburn University to address social justice issues in education in Alabama.
The UA-AU Research Collaborative includes seven research projects that will pair an education researcher from each university to study a range of topics, including trans admissions policies in higher education, racial exclusion of charter schools in rural Alabama, and how disabilities and mental health shape student identities, among others.
The program’s 2019-20 cohort has already begun collaborating.
“The program’s aim is to generate scholarship for purposes such as publication, grant funding, and national and international conference presentations,” said Dr. Stephanie Anne Shelton, assistant professor of qualitative research at UA. “Through this collaborative scholarship, we will support critically engaged research that traverses individual institutions and advances scholarship benefitting the state of Alabama and beyond.”
More information about individual projects and faculty affiliations can be found at the collaborative home page.
The collaborative is funded through separate $10,000 awards from each university’s College of Education. Researchers in the 2019-20 cohort will spend time at each university throughout the academic year and will present findings from their respective projects at the Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling Research Symposium in April 2020. The program also includes a summer writing retreat.
The UA-AU Research Collaborative is modeled after the SEC Faculty Travel Program, which provides funding to SEC researchers to collaborate and share ideas. Shelton and Dr. Kamden Strunk, associate professor of educational research at Auburn, had served on various committees for the American Educational Research Association before each were awarded SEC travel grants to work with one another in 2018-19. Shelton and Strunk aimed to grow their collaboration beyond their one-year funding from the SEC and pitched the idea to Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of UA’s College of Education, who made the initial investment for the program.
The program structure is also influenced by the UA College of Education’s exchange partnership with Shenyang Normal University in China and a UA faculty writing group in which Shelton participated. The face-to-face meetings and feedback of the writing group were “incredibly productive” for UA faculty and a vital component for the UA-AU collaborative, Shelton said.
“We wanted to make this collaboration in-house and more consistent,” Shelton said. “And, as far as I know, there isn’t a program with an explicit sharing of ideas and scholarly productivity between the two colleges of education.”
Equally important for UA is the program’s inclusion of researchers from multiple departments across the college and of various ranks, from full professors to first-year faculty, Shelton said.
“Some of these relationships are brand new, which is exciting. The scholarship that’s being generated through this collaborative would not happen without this program, and it’s something that will matter to UA, Auburn, the state of Alabama and hopefully beyond it.”
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.