We are asked, by contract, to reflect at regular intervals on what we are doing as faculty and how well we are doing it. These "Professional Development Plans" and their subsequent "Professional Development Reports" follow the terms of the contract--they are keyed to the five criteria of
But I am more concerned with Arthur Chickering's "7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (AAHE Bulletin, March 1987)
But through all of this, I am reminded of a poem by LeRoi Jones (Imiri Baraka), "The Liars," which I first used in a graduate paper in 1969:
Though I am a man who is loud on the birth of his ways. Publicly redefining each change in my soul, as if I had predicted them, and profited, biblically, even tho their chanting weight erased familiarity from my face. A question I think, an answer; whatever sits counting the minutes till you die. When they say, "It is Roi who is dead?" I wonder who will they mean?
A list of activities, categorized by the five terms of the employment contract, is appended to this report.
Through 1991, our professional development plans required annual reports. This is the first time I have had the occasion to take a long view of what I have been doing. In the Eighties, it seems that I was continuing to broaden my repertoire--a major element of that period was my sabbatical with the Dayton Hudson Foundation and the subsequent development of teaching and research on the nonprofit sector. That interest has continued into this period, with three new Selected Topics courses (The Third Sector, Community Conflict Management and Community Development). In the Nineties, I seem to have shifted more to deepening what I already know. I find myself thinking of it in terms of "being part of the national dialogue" (the Internet has certainly helped here).
For example, I have been monitoring what I have been reading. As part of my Sabbatical in 1992, I "returned to the source" and re-read (this time in their entirety) the classics which had shaped my thinking as a student and to which I continue to refer (although the exact references have sometimes grown fuzzy). I wanted to return to "the classics" for several reasons. In part, it was to find new meanings in old friends. In part it was to repair a sometimes lapsed friendship. In part it was because these works, while frequently "heavy," are at least more common as referents than the narrow and technical referents within my field. And (perhaps top a greater extent than I acknowledge) in part it was because I am convinced that an educated person (faculty and student alike) must be as well acquainted as possible with the tradition from which we have sprung (and I find too often that our students come to us only shallowly rooted). Appendix I is a list of the works I selected; the italics indicate which ones I completed. I did not read very many of the novels, nor did I do as much with math, as I had hoped. I still have a large part of my list left to read, and a strong desire to return to it--yet in the ensuing 3 1/2 years, I have found little opportunity.
In 1994-95 I decided to keep a journal of my reading (of books--this does not include my regular reading of journals). I was curious to track the amount and range of my reading (Appendix II). The list of reading for this one year runs to 56 entries, ranging from philosophy to natural sciences and math. In this particular year, there were no books from Geography, but all the other special disciplines contributing to Urban Studies were represented. There was some common focus on Teaching & Chairing (7 entries), Worlds of Thought (9), Humanities (7), Political Science (6), and Collaboration & Community (5). I was, frankly, surprised to see how much I actually read, and pleased with its breadth.
The challenge for the next years, as it seems to be taking shape, is to convert all this input into more output (see my Professional Development Plan, 1996-2000). I do not think it will take the form of traditional academic publishing, but rather will focus more on popular writing. I am drawn to be part of the national debate on issues focusing on cities, but I am not inclined to stay within the narrow disciplinary approaches required by most academic journals. I have already published one piece in The Christian Science Monitor, and several in the Free Press. The greatest barrier to this interest is finding time for quiet reflection and writing while still responding in a timely manner to topical issues in the popular press.
I also approach the next five years with unaccustomed freedom in terms of research focus and time. From 1986 to 1991, I was tied with a 5-year evaluation contract for SEMIF & SWMIF. From 1991 to 1996, I have been tied up with a 5-year evaluation project with Region Nine Development Commission. I would like to develop a more active focus in community service, focusing on nonprofits and perhaps on children. The form this will take is not yet clear.
In teaching, I intend to continue to develop techniques for "teaching in the 21st Century." Distance learning, especially on the Internet, will be part of this. I am also strongly drawn to general education teaching--preferably across disciplinary boundaries. My philosophy of teaching is based on three principles: