Dr. Hiram E. Fitzgerald, a worldwide leader in university continuing education outreach and engagement, is a pioneering researcher in the emerging field of engagement scholarship (ES), a multidisciplinary approach that cuts across teaching, research, and service. His major impact on adult and continuing education is his research and administrative leadership in ES, extending it to the fields of adult learning, and learning cities, through the lenses of systemic analysis and effecting transformational change driven by a social justice agenda.
As associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement and distinguished professor of psychology at Michigan State University, Fitzgerald has steered MSU to promote focused engagement through seed funding for community-based scholarship. He also has provided worldwide administrative leadership in adult and continuing education as the president of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) and was heavily invested in the development of the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship (ACES).
Trained as a developmental psychologist, Fitzgerald first began publishing about the traditional roles of land-grant universities. His research in ES led him to focus on correlating adult learning with learning cities research and applying that paradigm to and with local and international communities dynamically engaged in partnerships. His leadership has evoked a new pattern of land-grant institutions in relation to their statewide and international constituents. He has recognized the necessity to focus on changing systems as well as the specific problems embedded within those systems and the cultures supporting those systems. By developing a theoretical construct combining three intersecting elements—Community Engagement Scholarship (CES), Learning/Cities Research (LCRs), and Service-Learning—he now has a data-driven model appropriate for exporting to emerging countries. By using this new rigorous research paradigm, a diverse group of indigenous partner-experts are created to address complex community and social justice issues.
Fitzgerald is a renaissance thinker who moves between the intersecting disciplines of behavioral science. His mantra is, thus, “doing something with engaged partners that reciprocally changes both for the better” rather than doing something for or to communities regardless of where community partners may be nationally or internationally. His ES work is an effective return to energizing and engaging people in mutual and reciprocal participatory education to revitalize partner communities to reengage and resurface as democratic institutions taking ownership for their own existence and future growth.
Fitzgerald has written or co-written more than 200 research articles over a nearly 50-year academic career. This scholarship, along with countless other publications and presentations to major medical and psychological organizations and his service on many panels and advisory boards, have enhanced the common good and welfare of vast numbers of clients, patients, and target social groups.
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