The Excellences of Scholarship: Collegiality

We began the day with a walk.

The morning was cool and fresh, and the grounds around the DuBoise House at the Rizzo Center offered the six of us on the #Humetrics team at the TriangleSCI the peace and space we needed to think out loud together and to chart a plan for the day.

Peripatoi

That plan involved the attempt to map the values we’d identified yesterday as endemic to enriching scholarship onto practices that embody those values.

Along the way, however, we came to a small, dormant fountain and, quite naturally, we stood together in a circle around it, talking, working through the questions that were perplexing us, and learning more about what each of us valued.

I pause here again at the end of the day to bring my mind back to those moments of community building around the fountain because it marks an important moment in the cultivation of scholarship: the thickening of collegiality.

When we created the Public Philosophy Journal, we sought to put the Collegiality Index at the center of an ecosystem of scholarly communication and community. And while we continue to work toward that goal, the conversations we’ve had here at #TriangleSCI around the question of more humane humanities metrics has led to a deepening of my thinking about collegiality.

In the context of the Public Philosophy Journal, we identified three dimensions of thick collegiality:

  1. Hermeneutic Empathy: the ability to accurately describe what animates the scholarship under review;
  2. Hermeneutic Generosity: the willingness to invest expertise, experience, insight, and ideas to improving the scholarship under review;
  3. Hermeneutic Transformation: the ability to engage the community in ways that enrich the scholarship we are producing together.

In our attempts today to articulate the excellences of enriching scholarship, we developed a compelling list: Equity (by Rebecca Kennison), Openness (by Simone Sacchi), Collegiality, Quality (by jasonrhody), Community (by Nicky Agate). In addition, Stacy Konkiel considered broader questions of influence versus impact.

Collegiality

Under the value of collegiality, we included: ethical imagination, kindness, generosity, empathy, and self care.

Ethical imagination is central to the scholarly endeavor, but it’s a difficult habit to articulate let alone to cultivate. Empathy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for ethical imagination. The ability to put oneself in the position of another is a question of empathy; the ability to imagine one’s way into the perspective of another in order then to create new, more just and enriching modes of interaction and community is a question of ethical imagination.

Ethical imagination is a condition for the possibility of collegiality, which itself involves much more than civility. The capacity to imagine more just forms of community connects ethical imagination with the value of equity we identified as an excellence of enriching scholarship.

We determined the value of collegiality in term of generosity in order to emphasize the way it refuses to be constrained within a quid pro quo economy. Further, in emphasizing the notion of generosity, we follow Kathleen Fitzpatrick in amplifying the importance of listening.

As we begin to consider how these values are put into practice and how those practices produce outputs that can be measured, it will be important for us to recall our early morning walk, and the circle of conversation around the fountain that has shaped the generous, caring, candid, and enriching community of scholarship that informs our work.