Purdue Engagement Q&A with Sherrie Steiner

Q&A with Sherrie Steiner, PhD, assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Purdue University Fort Wayne and former Scholarship of Engagement Fellow.

Sherrie Steiner is assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Steiner’s research focus is on environmental sociology, religious soft power, and the improvement of public health. She is a former Scholarship of Engagement Fellow through the Office of Engagement.
We asked Steiner five key questions:

Q. Why do you feel engagement is important?

A. Engagement is important for connecting the university and the community to one another so that they mutually support one another in ways that are positively reinforcing – students know about the educational resources that are locally available to them; students learn how classroom education is connected to the everyday problems they experience in the community; community leaders know how to access university resources for assistance in resolving some of the complex problems they experience; university research progresses with local connections so that it retains some relevance and ties to local issues.

Q. How is engagement challenging?

A. Engagement is challenging in a variety of ways. Project funding is an ongoing issue. Engagement is also very time consuming and untenured faculty serving at universities that do not yet have engagement integrated into their promotion and tenure process run the risk of investing their energies in ways that weaken their case for promotion and tenure. The Scholarship of Engagement Fellowship was very important for helping me to overcome both of these challenges because they connected me to funding opportunities and, more importantly, provided me with the mentorship, wisdom and encouragement I needed to navigate my own promotion and tenure process at Purdue Fort Wayne, where engagement is not yet recognized for faculty applying for tenure.

Q. What advice do you have for individuals who are looking to get involved in engagement? 

A. If you are a tenure-track faculty member, I strongly recommend applying to become a Scholarship of Engagement Fellow. My involvement in that program had a significant impact on my progression at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Q. If you could describe your experience as Scholarship of Engagement Fellow in three words, what would you choose?

A. Mentorship, wisdom, and encouragement.

Q. What links should we share?

A. An immediate outcome of my participation in the Scholarship of Engagement Fellowship was “A Prestudy Curricula-as-Research Model for Scholarship of Engagement,” Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Vol. 21 (#2) 2017.

Later, I collaborated with additional colleagues to publish “Applying Social Science to Bring Resident Stakeholders into Pollution Governance: A Rural Environmental Justice Public Health Case Study with Jordan M. Marshall, Atefeh Mohammadpour, and Aaron W. Thompson, Journal of Applied Social Science, Vol. 16 (#1) 2021.

Source: Emily Bergman