Watson Graduates from Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Program

Dr. Linda Watson, Professor, graduated from the Carolina Center for Public Service’s Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Program in August.

Watson Graduates from Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Program click to enlarge Linda Watson with Faculty Course Director Ron Strauss and Community Course Director Melvin Jackson at the Faculty Engaged Scholars Class IV graduation.

She was one of nine members of the Faculty Engaged Scholars Class IV who spent the past two years working to strengthen partnerships between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the surrounding community.  The program brings together selected faculty from across campus to engage in an experiential, competency-based curriculum designed to advance their scholarship.

Dr. Watson’s area of scholarship is autism research, addressing issues of early development, early identification and social communication interventions. As a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar, she sought to increase engagement with varied stakeholders across multiple projects. One current project is testing the efficacy of a school-based intervention for preschoolers with autism. Dr. Watson’s team previously developed this intervention through a process of collaboration with public school educators. Also, through her role as a reviewer for the Institute of Education Sciences (which has funded this research), Dr. Watson has been able to provide feedback to grant applicants on stakeholder engagement and to advocate for such engagement as a quality indicator for intervention development proposals.

Another project Dr. Watson devoted attention to is a collaborative effort with stakeholders in Bolivia with an interest in improving autism services there. Among other activities, Dr. Watson and a Bolivian collaborator secured a memorandum of understanding signed by administrators at their respective universities and have begun preliminary planning for sustainable ways to address community-identified needs for greater autism awareness and expertise in Bolivia.

“As a researcher, I have been aware of the slow progress in translating from research to practice,” stated Dr. Watson in the Faculty Engaged Scholars graduation program. “Recently I have become aware that this slowness likely results in part from thinking of the translation process as moving only in one direction. Thus, engaging with community stakeholders throughout the research process has become a priority for me. I have been inspired by the commitment, energy and diverse creativity of my classmates in the Faculty Engaged Scholars program. Along with the inspiration, I have gained concrete ideas for engaging with those who have a stake in my scholarship, and look forward to continuing to infuse these ideas into my future work in the field of autism.”

 Since the inception of the Scholars program, 43 faculty members from nine schools and 21 departments have been selected to participate. Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. Elizabeth Crais from the Department of Allied Health Sciences are previous graduates, and Dr. Vicki Mercer was recently accepted into Class V of the program. 

Click here to read more about the program and projects by other members of Class IV. 


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