Social science Professor Kean Birch and history Professor Boyd Cothran seek to encourage greater social interaction and professional development among members of York University’s largest Faculty. Supported by the Dean’s Office in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), Birch and Cothran have banded with recently hired faculty members to form the LA&PS Emerging Scholars Network (LESN).
Their definition of “emerging scholar” qualifies new faculty – tenure track and contractually limited appointments – who have been hired since 2010 and, after that, anyone in their first 10 years of employment at York.
Birch and Cothran hope to attract pre-tenure and early post-tenured faculty. The network was created to complement University and Faculty initiatives already in place to acclimate professors to life at York.
“York’s a big place, a big institution and it’s often difficult to meet new faculty members and make those kinds of connections, social as well as professional connections, with your colleagues across departments,” says Birch. “People don’t come to campus every day of the week. Your chance of meeting people is always going to be limited by that.
“If we could establish a network for new, emerging faculty members, we could combine the social and professional in terms of meeting each other, sharing our stories, sharing our experiences and getting to know one another.”
The LESN, through special events and workshops, will offer regular research seminars, increase awareness of available University resources and support, and encourage faculty to support research development and dissemination, as well as introduce new faculty to the unique aspects of York as a place of work.
The LESN has already hosted sessions on collegial governance and the new University Academic Plan, and plans to host a session on developing research grants for the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council this month.
“In establishing the LA&PS Emerging Scholars Network, we hope to create a greater sense of community for new faculty here at York,” says Cothran. “There is such diversity in experience and background among new faculty, but too often we’re siloed in our home units. Creating a space to come together for social, intellectual and professional exchange will help make York a better place to work for our colleagues and make us all better scholars and more committed community members.”
Birch and Cothran have placed a call out for other faculty to join the LESN steering committee and have launched the LA&PS Emerging Scholars Network website to keep faculty aware of upcoming events.
“We hope LESN will become a central meeting place, a resource and a clearing house where new faculty members can ask questions and share their experiences, from the best place to park or grab a bite to eat to model grant applications and tenure promotion questions,” says Cothran. “We hope it will help build relationships within the cohort across one of the largest universities in North America.”