Faculty construction of reciprocity and mutuality in community-engaged scholarship
Omerikwa, Anthony Opare
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The purpose of this study was to understand the community-engagement phenomenon through the perspectives of faculty members involved in community engaged projects. The study was guided by the following research questions; How does a faculty: (1) Understand and define the process of reciprocity and mutuality? (2) Integrate reciprocity and mutuality in engaged projects? And, (3) negotiate the project engagement process? This study illuminated the perspectives of land grant university faculty in defining mutuality and reciprocity, negotiating disparities, and incorporating the tenets of community-engaged scholarship in university-community partnerships. The findings showed that (a) the nature of the study and faculty knowledge influenced how mutuality and reciprocity were defined, (b) the integration of mutuality and reciprocity was done at different facets of the project, from conception of the research idea to the dissemination of findings, (c) integration had to be negotiated by the survey participants, and (d) factors such as funding, time, researcher positionality, institutional culture, access, and historical experiences affected the integration of reciprocity and mutuality. The study concluded that (a) community-engaged scholarship was socially constructed, (b) mutuality and reciprocity was incorporated at different phases of the projects’ process, (c) mutuality and reciprocity was characterized by contradictions, (d) there was a power relationship between the faculty and the community, and (e) expected outcomes prevailed over process and purpose in framing engaged scholarship. The study advanced Stanton’s model community engaged scholarship by proposing the role of negotiations and relationships to enhance reciprocity and mutuality. The practical implications of the study included: enriching faculty training and development content, understanding the challenges of integrating mutuality and reciprocity, understanding the definition of community-engaged scholarship across disciplines, and strengthening institutions’ commitment to the community through research work. The study recommended exploring how other actors in community-based projects defined and integrated reciprocity and mutuality, a greater understanding of the community’s perspectives, focusing on the impact of institutional culture on the conduct of the project and the faculty, using quantitative approaches to establish the correlation between the challenges faced by the faculty, integrating of mutuality and reciprocity into community projects, and replicating the study in a different context.