Introduction to part IV

Timothy K. Eatman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemForeword/postscript

1 Scopus citations


For all of our expressions about loving the life of the mind, many of us situated in academe characteristically underestimate the basic conceptual expansiveness of knowledge making. Our dominant culture regards knowledge making in its truest, cogent, and most meaningful forms as that which begins and/or ends at the borders of the proverbial ivory tower; knowledge generated in other sectors holds little if any relevance. In many ways this handbook speaks to how we can trouble such a negligent narrative and catalyzes a practice that invokes the power of community-engaged scholarship for cultural change. Part IV of this book builds on earlier parts by providing salient perspectives from publicly engaged scholars in faculty roles and beyond (e.g., administrative, associational) as well as insights about the important role of organizations and policy from leaders in the field. In introducing this part I am struck by the relevance of research from the field of neuroscience to the enterprise of knowledge making in general and publicly engaged scholarship in particular. The nature and yield of focused concentration lives in perpetual and profound tension with the larger world of ideas. This friction arises in part because the physiological realities of healthy brain functioning require that excess or unused neurons atrophy and die. Neurons that are actually put to use develop and refine our ability as human beings to focus on phenomena and make meaning that aligns with our priorities. This phenomenon, “attention blindness,” is arguably one of the most fundamental and powerful principles of neuroscience. It has to do with the way the human brain navigates seeing, how it interprets and makes judgments. In this regard and with heavy emphasis on pedagogy, digital humanities scholar Cathy Davidson (2011) challenges us to appreciate “attention blindness” as a powerful reminder that there are dangers in allowing the power of our focus and seeing to eclipse the reality that there is always more to be seen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Service Learning and Community Engagement
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781316650011
ISBN (Print)9781107153783
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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