Spring 2008     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 12, Issue 1     Editorial (1)
Catalysts for Curricular Change    
The Spring 2008 Issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly (AEQ) includes this special 
section: Interdisciplinary Pedagogy to Foster Health Initiatives. It represents a 
new focus in the United States on advancing the pedagogy of community engagement 
across disciplines under the auspices of health initiatives.  We asked for novel 
and creative approaches to integrating health concepts among student disciplines 
that enhance their electronic, written, oral, listening, non-verbal, and visual 
communication, in a variety of contexts. The outcome of our request indicates that 
the scholarship of interdisciplinary community engagement is at various developmental 
stages across the country. Authors Lane and Handron propose transformative theory to 
guide framing the pedagogy of interdisciplinary community engagement. California 
State University faculty members offer a learner-centered case example to guide 
curricular design. Otterness, Elison-Bowers, and Reischl discuss the need for 
curriculum changes to integrate community engagement around interdisciplinary 
pedagogy. Fontaine relates how a curriculum can be arts-based in design. Faculty 
from the Medical University of South Carolina and Low Country AHEC describe the 
creation of a curriculum that incorporates interdisciplinary community engagement 
to generate health outcomes that reduce obesity risks for youth in an inner-city 
elementary school. The University of Northern Florida article communicates how 
technology can be used to sustain partnerships for service-learning.  Other 
university efforts are researching the learner outcomes from these interdisciplinary 
initiatives: 1) Boise State presents gender differences in complementary and 
alternative medicine usage, 2) Morehouse presents the relationship of time dose 
affect on student learning, and 3) East Carolina University presents changes in 
student attitudes.

Thus, we see that interdisciplinary pedagogy to foster health initiatives is complex, 
multi-contextual, and requires examination of the many layers for design, 
implementation, and evaluation. It is, however, the manner in which our world 
operates today…….interrelated globalization……where the integration of one discipline 
into another provides synergistic resources for resolving the issues that face our 
current and future society. Our own experience with interdisciplinary collaboration 
for healthcare design has been multi-layered and in a constant state of metamorphosis.
The collaborative structure is redefining itself in the process of meeting needs 
presented through community engagement. The curriculum becomes an artist’s palette 
that sharpens its image in response to the interactions of faculty, students, and 
community. This phenomenon of improvisational curricular development is not unique 
to our experience alone, but evidence exists from these articles and other national 
and international activities that interdisciplinary pedagogy and community-engaged 
scholarship is advancing as a model of discovery learning.

On another note, Dr. Judith Ramaley, President, Winona State University, spoke at the 
Fifth Annual East Carolina University Conference on Service-Learning in March of 2008. 
Our interpretation of her future vision for service-learning in the 21st century is 
that of an evolution towards an academic model of community engagement. New skills 
will be needed by faculties which capitalize on the opportunities for authentic 
learning moments through community collaboration. The integration of economic, 
educational, and community development within a learning paradigm requires a framework
of mutuality and reciprocity. We seek discovery in a structure of learning that promotes 
ambiguity, where there are no clear definitions of what the questions of learning are 
and where disciplinary lines become transparent. The reason learning becomes ambiguous
is that it is an improvisational process. The relationship between the faculty, the 
learner, and the content is in an on-going state of rapid flux. A learning framework 
for community engagement requires a base in all courses to the point of regional 
immersion. The outcomes of this type of learning partnership result in changes among 
faculty and community as much as among the students. It will take a different 
organizational structure for the 21st century University. We are posed at a unique 
time where there is a generational influence assembled that can work synergistically 
to create a new learning reality. As continuous learners, we are engaged in a mutual 
process of discovery learning. The articles presented in this edition give credence 
to building the new paradigm for the 21st century University. However, according to 
the Carnegie Educational Foundation, some barriers must be overcome. 

Carnegie is now selecting colleges and universities for a new elective community 
engagement classification. The classification is awarded based on criteria regarding 
the nature and extent of their community engagement. The universities and colleges 
selected show alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices. 
As stated by Amy Driscoll, an associate senior scholar at the Foundation who directed 
the pilot project, "While we found some wonderful examples of deeply engaged 
institutions, we also found some conspicuous omissions… For example, even among the 
most compelling applications, few institutions described promotion and tenure 
policies that recognize and reward the scholarship associated with community 
engagement." In addition, community engagement did not appear as a priority in 
academic institutions’ search and hiring criteria (Carnegie, 2007).

Despite these issues, our edition indicates those faculties remain dedicated to 
advancing interdisciplinary pedagogy with community engagement as it relates to 
health initiatives. Further evidence of the growing paradigm shift is provided 
through upcoming international conferences. For example, the All Together Better 
Health IV 2008 conference to be held in Stockholm and Linkoping, Sweden, focuses on 
interprofessional learning collaborations that are delivered as partnerships with 
the community to improve the delivery of healthcare and create innovative health 
environments. Another conference of interest is the 2nd International Nurse Education 
Conference to be held in Duplin, Ireland. The spotlight is on Research and Innovation 
in International Nurse Education with a leading topic being interprofessional 
education. Given the wide array of pedagogical activity surrounding interdisciplinary 
pedagogy and community engagement, Academic Exchange Quarterly has decided to extend 
this Feature Edition concentration to another volume in Spring 2009. The feature 
editors, Susan Martin Meggs and Annette G. Greer, invite submissions which continue 
this innovative pedagogical shift.

Annette G.Greer,PhD, MSN, RN, is Clinical Assistant Professor for the Office of 
Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Education, East Carolina University, NC; Susan 
Martin Meggs, MS, MFA, is an Assistant Professor  in the College of Human Ecology, 
Department of Interior Design, East Carolina University, NC
CFP for the next HEALTH-2 issue Interdisciplinary Pedagogy to Foster Health Initiatives Spring 2009.
See all published HEALTH articles.