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.