Networking Opportunities for Junior Education Scholars in the Wake of Covid-19

  • Figlio, David N (PD/PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The issue: While junior faculty at research-intensive universities frequently have opportunities for mentorship from their institutional colleagues, the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected important opportunities for them to meet new colleagues outside of their universities and to network with senior scholars from other institution who could then become champions of their work. Losing the opportunity to travel, to present and to network at conferences means that junior scholars are missing out on this core element of professional development. This is front of mind to junior scholars: When junior faculty at Northwestern SESP were surveyed, this was the third most serious professional COVID-19 concern facing these scholars, behind time costs associated with increased caring responsibilities and disrupted access to research sites/archives. The opportunity: We propose to jointly address this issue, in part, for the junior faculty of our ten institutions (Berkeley, Columbia Teacher’s College, Harvard, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn, Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin), and to some degree offer a public good for junior faculty from other education schools outside of the Dean’s Alliance members, by an invitation to deans at other institutions (the AAU and CURI groups). This would take two forms: (1) creation of “mentorship circles” of four assistant professors from different universities and a senior faculty member who would meet periodically; and (2) larger-format conversations between senior faculty and junior faculty at a variety of institutions regarding challenges junior scholars are facing. Mentorship circles would involve one senior faculty member and four junior faculty members from different institutions. They would meet together on Zoom three times as a group (Spring/Summer 2021, Fall 2021, and Winter 2022) for an hour each time, and have 30-minute 1:1 sessions between senior mentors and junior scholars during the period between the first and second meeting, and during the period between the second and third meeting. Northwestern personnel would also facilitate a couple of meetings between the four junior scholars (without the senior mentor) in order to help the junior scholars gel as a group. The total time expectation for each senior mentor would be 7 hours (3 hours for the group meetings and 4 hours for the 1:1 meetings), plus any prep time. In recognition of this time expenditure, we would compensate mentors $1,000 for their efforts. We would recruit senior mentors from our senior colleagues before advertising to our junior colleagues. We propose to organize 30 mentorship circles, permitting the mentorship of 60 junior faculty members. In order to match junior scholars with senior scholars, we would invite junior faculty at our ten institutions to identify and rank-order their top choices (the precise number – top five, top eight, or top ten – will depend on uptake) among the mentor volunteers, and we would assign junior scholars to two of these mentors, so that each junior scholar would join two mentorship circles, so that they would thereby develop relationships with two new mentors and six new junior colleagues from other institutions. Northwestern team members would handle the logistics for junior-senior matching as well as these meetings and compensation of senior mentors. The number of junior faculty slots in these mentorship circles from any given institution will be proportional to the number of senior mentor volunteers from that institution. For every senior mentor volunteer from an institu
Effective start/end date4/1/213/31/22


  • Spencer Foundation (202100283)


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