We are launching an exciting revision of the Leadership Fellows program to reflect the evolution of our community, and most importantly, to better respond to the interests and needs of current and potential Fellows, as well as the wider community.
The SENCER Leadership Fellows program began in 2008 with the election of more than 70 educators and administrators. The original program was developed to recognize participants who had made distinctive contributions to the SENCER project, and to support them as they worked on projects of their own design for eighteen-month terms. The program has served the community well, and has allowed us to provide national recognition for the excellent work our Fellows do. Many of our Fellows have published and presented at disciplinary societies in the US and abroad on their work; their course and programs have gone on to become SENCER Models, which have been adapted and implemented around the country; and Fellows have provided NCSCE and SENCER leaders with invaluable information on what they and other innovative faculty need to be successful advocates of the integration of science and civic engagement, as well as to advance their careers. The Leadership Fellows have been a key to the development of the SENCER project into a “community of transformation.”
Since the Fellows program was initiated, we have been incredibly fortunate to see an impressive increase in the number of participants in our community, as well as an increasing diversity in the disciplines involved, types of institutions represented, and courses/programs impacted. Based on years of feedback, and personal interviews with many of you over the past year, we are proposing some improvements in the program design to better meet the challenges you face, and more effectively support your current work and aspirations. Thank you to all of our community members and advisors who have generously offered their time and feedback during this process.
We have heard two consistent messages over the past year – one, expressed by early-to-mid career faculty and/or those new to our community: there is a need for structured and intentional mentoring that lasted beyond the motivating conversations had at a Summer Institute or regional event. The second, expressed by those who are well established in our community and in a mid-to-late stage of career, or recently retired, is the desire to help support and advance the next generation of educators and leaders.
In response to this feedback we have restructured the Fellows program to be an intensive, one-year mentoring experience built around a specific goal that the prospective Leadership Fellow (the mentee) determines in his/her application. Mentors, who will be designated Senior Fellows, will commit to working with a Leadership Fellow to help her/him meet the goal. Each Senior Fellow will mentor only one Leadership Fellow in a given year, to allow enough time and attention for a productive partnership to develop without over-extending either person. Mentors are expected to provide feedback and guidance, and commit to at least one phone conversation or videoconference per month with the Leadership Fellow over the project year as they develop and implement their projects. Leadership Fellows, the mentees, will commit to focusing on completing the project they describe in their application. These changes to the Fellows program will provide community members consistent and focused support by both a designated mentor and NCSCE as requested.
* Please note; this program is not designed to provide co-authors to a research, grant, or other proposal. The goal of this program is to provide personalized professional development that leads to completion of a project to help the Leadership Fellow grow professionally. If, over the course of the year, a joint venture evolves, that is perfectly fine, but it should not be an expectation of either party at the beginning of the mentorship relationship.
Those interested in becoming a Leadership Fellow must have participated in some regional or national activities to the point where they are familiar with the SENCER approach and have a clearly defined project that connects with NCSCE and SENCER’s mission, vision, and activities. For example, if you note that you would like to ‘complete tenure or promotion package,’ we expect that your detailed project description will focus on constructing your package based on the applications of NCSCE/SENCER that you have built into your career. Similarly, if you select ‘design or revise a course,’ your detailed description should include the civic issue around which content will be structured so that your familiarity with our approach is evident.
Senior Fellow candidates must have extensive experience with SENCER to the point where they can guide a Leadership Fellow in the application of the theory and approach at that person’s institution, share first hand experience relevant to the Leadership Fellow’s development, and direct her/him to appropriate resources. After a one-year term as a Senior Fellow, those interested in serving as mentors the following year will be able to submit a simple renewal form.
This program is open to both formal and informal educators.
Expectations and Support
Prospective Leadership Fellows are expected to provide a detailed description of the project they wish to work on over the fellowship year. During June 2018, Leadership Fellows will work with their mentors to set a timeline for the Fellowship year and will provide the plan to the national office. Senior and Leadership Fellows are expected to commit to regular communication and action based on the established project plan, and to take part in program assessment activities by the national office. Leadership Fellows are responsible for adhering to the goal they state in their application. If there is a change to that goal, Fellows are expected to contact the National Office and share the change, the cause, and implications so we can ensure you have the appropriate support.
NCSCE will provide support throughout the fellowship year for both Leadership and Senior Fellows. Webinars designed specifically for the needs of both mentors and mentees will be offered early in the Fellowship year. Topics will be drawn from established best practices in mentoring, as well as from feedback from program participants. NCSCE will provide an online workspace for the members of the cohort of Leadership and Senior Fellows to communicate with each other and share ideas. We will also offer meeting space at our national gatherings for any Leadership or Senior Fellows who happen to be in attendance.
Following the project year, we may feature panel discussions with mentors and mentees at symposia or through webinars to share achievements and challenges with the community. This will not be a requirement of all Leadership and Senior Fellows; it is solely an opportunity we anticipate being offered to any participants who are interested in sharing their experiences.
NCSCE will also help Leadership and Senior Fellows privately negotiate any challenges that arise during the mentoring period.
Mentors and mentees are welcome to contact staff at any time to offer feedback. Mentors and mentees commit to taking part in two interviews – one at the six-month mark, and one after the year is over. A survey will also be conducted at the beginning and end of the fellowship year. Responses to survey and interview questions will be kept confidential; overarching results (de-identified) may be used in research reports and publications. Both Leadership Fellows and Senior Fellows will be required to file written reports at the close of the mentoring year reflecting on project accomplishments.
Selection Process for Leadership and Senior Fellows
Any individual who is interested in being a Leadership Fellow or a Senior Fellow will need to complete the appropriate application. NCSCE staff will follow up with you for additional conversations, and will match Leadership Fellows and Senior Fellow using the answers to application and interview questions to determine the best alignment of needs and experience.
On the application, Leadership Fellows will be expected to describe the project they would like to work on over the Fellowship year. Senior Fellows will be expected to select the area(s) they would be comfortable with mentoring someone for one year. This information on both applications is critical.
A strong application from a Leadership Fellow will be one that clearly defines the goal for the year of the fellowship, details the steps the applicant believes are necessary, and is straightforward in responses to questions about expectations of the mentoring process. A strong Senior Fellow application will include clear, detailed responses to questions about past mentoring experiences and expectations of a mentee.
NCSCE will only match people where there is a distinct alignment of needs, experience, and working style. Please note, we will not favor applications for certain projects over others – for clarity, we do not rank applications based on whether they are addressing a course revision as opposed to a research study or the development of a new program. Our only intention is to provide Leadership Fellows the best support possible to achieve their goals.
We want both Leadership and Senior Fellows to have a positive experience and so our matching process will be intensive:
- Now through January 31, 2018 – Applications open
- February 1, 2018 – April 30, 2018 – NCSCE conducts interviews with all Leadership Fellow and Senior Fellow Applicants
- May 1, 2018 – May 25, 2018 – NCSCE conducts final review of all applications and interviews, sets mentoring pairs
- May 29, 2018 – Leadership Fellow and Senior Fellow applicants contacted with the results of applications and interviews, and final matches
- June 1, 2018 – Project year begins
Please visit the program page for answers to frequently asked questions and links to application forms. Contact Danielle Kraus Tarka, program director, with any additional questions you have.