This project is led by Julie Risien in collaboration with Researcher Holly Cho and aims to learn from study of local processes and lived experiences of change in higher education reward and advancement practices. This work is born out of a previous STEM Research Center work funded by the Rita Allen Foundation, Landscape Overview of University Systems and People Supporting Scientists in their Public Engagement Efforts, and the resulting reflective essay titled, Coordinated Reform and Local Solutions: Transforming the University Systems of Reward and Professional Advancement (Risien & Nilson, 2018). The project assumes that the current academic system of reward and professional advancement: a) does not live up to current university values and fails to support improvements in teaching, engagement, innovation, inclusivity, convergence research and team science; and b) can be improved and is already being improved through disruptive actions by champions of change. The first phase of this project, which seeks to understand positive changes at the departmental scale, has produced and initial report Understanding faculty and student perceptions about reward and advancement : survey of four STEM departments at research intensive universities, with additional analysis forthcoming.

The second phase, with Co-Lead Dr. Beronda Montgomery from Michigan State University, seeks to reveal the stories of individuals from underrepresented and marginalized groups who have navigated a flawed system in a way that supports long-term change.  We will avoid telling the “hero’s” story of achievement despite obstacles, as this story can reinforce the broken system. We will rather expose injustice in the system, lack of alignment between promotion and tenure practices with espoused university values, and opportunities for evolving both policy and practice for a more inclusive academy.    

Related to this project, Risien served on the 2019 NASEM Planning Committees for a Re-envisioning Promotion and Advancement for STEM Faculty workshop and Promotion, Tenure, and Advancement through the Lens of 2020 - he Next Normal workshop series. She also serves on the leadership for the leadership of the NSF supported Promotion and Tenure – Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PTIE) project; .