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March 2021

Dear Beyond The Academy Community,

Here in Minnesota the days are getting longer, the snow is melting, and I’m starting to imagine what it will mean to return to my commute, a classroom full of students, and all the buzz of a “normal” academic fall. I’m also reflecting on the many ways researchers, students, faculty, and administrators have adapted their personal and professional lives to a completely novel set of circumstances. 

Despite the challenges of 2020, there are opportunities in times of transformation. Like many of you, I am monitoring how institutions are adopting reforms that align with the BTA mission of fostering engaged, action-oriented scholarship on sustainability. For example, some universities are making modifications to faculty tenure and promotion policies, offering workload adjustments, and chipping in for childcare. I hope that some of these reforms “stick” and contribute to long-term change in institutional protocols and culture. If you are inspired by what you’re seeing at your university, send a note so we can share with the network.

I am also excited to announce that we’re making progress on a “Guidebook for the Engaged University." First envisioned at our Cambridge workshop, the Guidebook combines the insights of our 20+ institutions into a go-to resource for those advocating for a more engaged, inspired, and equitable academy.

The Guidebook summarizes best practices related to our three BTA themes: 

  • Reforming academic incentive structures
  • Encouraging public engagement and co-production
  • Preparing students to be sustainability leaders

Over the coming months we will be sharing draft chapters from the Guidebook for your feedback and following up with specific BTA members to request input. This spring and summer, we will improve and update the content and develop a companion synthesis article for an academic audience. The dream is to convene an in-person (gasp!) workshop and formal public launch of the Guidebook in the fall of 2021.

We invite you to preview a draft chapter on Metrics for Measuring Impact. Please provide feedback using this form and help us create a product that will be both useful and inspiring.

Below we share resources and news contributed by BTA members. If you have something you would like highlighted in a future newsletter, please email Christina at

Best wishes,


Opportunities & Announcements

Recent Publications

  • Equity-Minded Faculty Workloads: What We Can and Should Do Now | O'Meara et al. | American Council on Education. This report explains how inequities arise in faculty workloads: for example, faculty from minoritized racial groups do disproportionately more mentoring and diversity work, and women faculty do more service and teaching, than other groups. As vital as these activities are, they often go unrewarded. The report provides evidence that faculty workload systems are more equitable when designed around six principles: transparency, clarity, credit, norms, context, and accountability. 
  • Producing actionable science in conservation | Gerber et al. | Conservation Science and Practice.   “Actionable science” is (rightly) in vogue for conservation scientists, and new analysis elicits best practices at both the individual and organizational level for connecting conservation research to action.
  • Racialized Trauma on the Tenure Track | Daisy Verduzco Reyes | Inside Higher Ed. A Latinx scholar describes the challenges academics of color face through her own personal experiences on the tenure path, and offers actionable steps to improve the tenure process. 
  • Making a Place for the Next Generation of Geoscientists | Li et al. | Eos. Although COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on academic and research institutions, a group of geoscientists argue that the pandemic has conspicuously exacerbated pre-existing inequities within their discipline. Their recommendations for better supporting early-career geoscientists are important perspectives for those in other disciplines looking to address similar inequities. 

Other Resources:

  • The newly published and publicly available TEFCE Toolbox is an institutional self-reflection framework to help universities become more publicly engaged. The framework is a result of a three-year EU-funded project Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement in Higher Education (TEFCE), with a pilot phase involving 180 experts and practitioners from eight EU Member States. 
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