Elon Teacher-Scholar Statement
“The Elon Teacher-Scholar”
Elon strives to attract gifted and well-educated faculty who are deeply committed to the potential of their disciplines to enhance our understanding of the human condition and the world. As teachers, mentors, and scholars, the faculty are dedicated to modeling the intellectual values they seek to impart to students, including a learned, reflective, and critical approach to life. In these roles, the faculty take joy in the process of inquiry and sharing their knowledge with others. As active members of the academy, the faculty participate in professional activities that keep them current and enlarge the intellectual and practical opportunities available to students. And finally, as responsible members of the university community, Elon teacher-scholars also dedicate their talents, experiences, and leadership skills to activities that sustain, develop, and improve the entire institution.
The Elon faculty embrace the idea that scholarship and teaching are inseparable because scholarship is the foundation of teaching. The scholarly and professional activities of faculty connect them to a vital intellectual community beyond the walls of Elon, ensure their continuing development as enlightened seekers, contribute to the body of knowledge and wisdom, and renew their enthusiasm to engage students. The Elon community is committed to creating an environment that allows the faculty to excel as teachers, scholars, and mentors.
Elon University is principally dedicated to teaching undergraduates in and out of the classroom. Faculty strive to instill in their students a commitment to intellectual endeavors and a life-long devotion to learning and the ideals of citizenship. They share with their students a sense of the history and vitality of scholarly inquiry that emerges from disciplinary depth and expands to interdisciplinary inquiry. All faculty recognize their responsibility to convey a foundation of established knowledge, but their ultimate goal is to cultivate informed critical thinking, creative expression, and a desire to serve the common good.
While classrooms, laboratories, and studios are the traditional focal points of an intellectual community, scholarly inquiry extends beyond these environments. As teacher-scholars, the faculty are committed to improving the content and pedagogy of their teaching. By developing classroom environments in which all persons are respected and informed engagement is valued, faculty challenge students to develop the skills necessary to understand complex issues and topics. Simply stated, the classroom is a place to challenge students to be engaged learners and to establish mentoring relationships that extend interactions beyond the traditional classroom. The challenge to be engaged learners extends not only beyond the classroom but even beyond the confines of the institution.
Elon recognizes, values, nurtures, and provides support for innovative approaches that strengthen the linkages between knowledge and experience through programs such as international study, service learning, cooperative learning, leadership training, undergraduate research, internship experience, and civic engagement. As a consequence of this broader view of faculty engagement with students, the university encourages productive interactions that blur the boundaries separating traditional teaching activity, scholarship, and professional activity. For example, faculty may experiment with service-learning projects that combine classroom learning with direct applications in the local community, use their professional consulting expertise to develop case studies for the classroom, or employ web-based technologies to guide and enhance student internship experiences with employers located across the country. One of the strongest connections between disciplinary expertise and student experience occurs when faculty mentor students in the process of scholarly inquiry, encouraging and supporting presentations at student research forums and professional disciplinary meetings. Scholar-mentor activities combine traditional teaching, experiential education, and professional expertise to mold graduates ready to take their place as working members of their profession or to continue their academic training in graduate or professional school.
The faculty’s ability to model intellectual engagement is based on their intentional and continual development as professionals. While they share common goals, each Elon faculty member possesses unique gifts, skills, training, perspectives, and approaches that enrich the academic community. The university recognizes and values the differences between individual faculty members and encourages each to grow and develop as a teacher-scholar. Thus, the Elon faculty reflect the comprehensive nature of the institution and the variety of their disciplines in that they are scholars, mentors, philosophers, theoreticians, researchers, artists, writers, educators, and professional practitioners.
At Elon, professional activity is broadly defined as any activity involving the serious practice of disciplinary expertise. Scholarship is essential to an intellectually vibrant and enriching community, and so it represents the most fundamental form of professional activity. Other forms of professional activity include service to the profession, developing new research skills, taking special courses, attending workshops related to one’s discipline, attending workshops on teaching pedagogy and attending conferences, performances, or exhibits. As they mature professionally, faculty may serve as consultants and accept leadership roles in disciplinary organizations.
Scholarship is a creative process of inquiry and exploration that adds to the knowledge or appreciation of disciplinary or interdisciplinary understanding. It is the serious exercise of what is being taught in the education of students: clear goal setting, adequate preparation, intense inquiry, and critical reflection. Elon University encourages and recognizes a broad array of scholarly endeavors just as it has adopted a broad view of faculty engagement with students. Scholarship adds significantly to our understanding by: 1) discovering or uncovering new knowledge or insights, 2) generating new theories and techniques that guide discovery, 3) integrating knowledge within or across disciplines, 4) applying knowledge responsibly to solve problems, and 5) developing pedagogical innovations that facilitate the dissemination of knowledge.
Distinct differences exist in the types of scholarly activities that are valued both within and between disciplines as a consequence of the unique historical development of each discipline. However, across all disciplines, recognized scholarly work shares some common features:
- It results in a product, presentation, exhibition, or performance that expands knowledge, skills, or understanding that can be shared with others.
- It extends beyond the limits of the institution.
- It develops and/or expands the expertise of the faculty member and lifts the faculty member’s standing within the institution and in his/her greater community (scholars, artists, researchers, professional practitioners).
- The work is reviewed by those outside the institution who have appropriate expertise.
The tangible results of scholarship include academic publications, presentations at professional meetings, grant proposals, artistic performances, musical scores, screenplays, art exhibits, computer software, patented inventions, professional manuals, video productions, and other work determined by each faculty member’s academic department. Scholarship is also reflected in pedagogical innovations (such as textbook ancillaries, laboratory manuals, and experiential activities) that are shared with the academic world outside of Elon. Works of synthesis that translate knowledge for those lacking expertise or summarize current understanding for those with expertise further represent important scholarly work valued by the institution. Elon University is a rich intellectual community committed to providing a dynamic and challenging curriculum that emphasizes learning across the disciplines and encourages students to put knowledge into practice. Faculty model a life of learning through their engagement with students and their scholarly accomplishments. As a part of a vibrant academic community, they share with their students the joy of mental, physical, and spiritual transformation, guiding them to become informed and caring citizens of the global community.