Towers And Silos And Walls, Oh My!

The first is called service learning. The idea, of course, is not really new, but the renewed emphasis placed on it is. Phrases such as “engage the world beyond our campus” are beginning to appear in strategic plans, as college and university administrators respond to external pressures to show accountability and relevance.

Second is the concept of praxis, which refers to students’ self-integration of theoretical and practical learning through intentional reflection on designed experiences. Thoughtfully comparing, contrasting, and connecting their academic knowledge with that gained in the field produces valuable insight leading to wisdom.

Third is the scholarship of engagement. For several years, higher ed has followed the “Boyer Model” (after Earnest Boyer, a respected educational theorist), which segmented professors’ obligations into four “scholarships”: discovery, integration, application, and service. Professors who wanted to earn tenure or promotion were judged on their performance in relation to these four duties. More recently, a fifth scholarship, engagement, has been added, explicitly emphasizing connection to the “real world” mentioned in the opening sentence.

On the parks and recreation management side of the equation, a recent survey reported over 95 percent of current practitioners have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree, with over 45 percent of them holding a more advanced degree. The exposure of these professionals to the postsecondary environment, and its conceptual orientation, may produce the levels of appreciation and comfort sought by the three academic initiatives discussed above.

In this more collaborative environment, then, bricks made available by dismantling the towers, silos and walls can pave the way to the endless benefits parks and recreation offers us all.

Kim S. Uhlik, Ph.D is an Assistant Professor in the School of Exercise, Leisure, and Sport at Kent State University. In August he will be affiliated with the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at San Jose State University, where he will coordinate their Leadership and Administration emphasis. You can contact him at kuhlik@kent.edu.

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