Clark earns national faculty community engagement award

News — June 6, 2022

Clark earns national faculty community engagement award

By Ben Lewis, Director of Communications

Jill Clark, associate professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, has earned the 2022 Excellence in Faculty Community Engagement Award from the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC). Clark received this national recognition for her leadership with the Franklin County Local Food Council (FCLFC).

Founded in 2012, the FCLFC is an independent advisory council that brings together a wide-variety of organizations and people who had been working individually on addressing public problems in the local food system.

"The Franklin County Local Food Council is a signature example of how faculty members and students working collaboratively with community members can identify important challenges facing the community, use research to inform solutions for addressing the challenge, and perhaps most importantly, convene stakeholders to work together to implement strategies," said Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

As a first activity, Clark and her student, Caitlyn Marquis, pitched the idea of a local food policy audit that would use document review and key informant interviews to comprehensively assess current policies, while identifying gaps and opportunities for future activities. The collaborative co-developed questions, co-analyzed results, and co-determined action steps. The audit identified community needs and kicked off a string of research activities spanning the next decade. The audit inspired and informed the Columbus and Franklin County Local Food Action Plan, which coordinates city and county resources to address problems in the local food system. Currently, the FCLFC participates in implementing the plan with the city and county and is prioritizing zoning and issues of equity, for which Clark provides research support.

"The relationships with our community partners are key to the FCLFC's success," Clark said. "Without the shared planning and decision making we have between partners, our scholarship and impact wouldn't reach the same levels."

The research projects led by Clark and her students (several other research projects are led by other FCLFC members) are the local food policy audit, a study on local government-civil society food policy governance structures, a food supply chain workers policy brief and a policy brief on expanding equitable healthy food access. From a scholarly standpoint, local food policy and governance is a new area of research in the field of public administration. Clark has leveraged her on-the-ground research to reach a national audience by publishing, with students, three peer-reviewed journal articles and three peer-reviewed book chapters.

Reciprocity is at the heart of Clark's engaged research paradigm, so community-oriented outputs (audits, action plans, governance structures and policy briefs) are always published and distributed to project partners before the research is prepared for peer review.

"Jill's leadership in first organizing and then sustaining the Franklin County Local Food Council serves as a model to faculty at Ohio State and across the country of the impact community engaged scholarship can have in the lives of our neighbors," said Ryan Schmiesing, vice provost for Outreach and Engagement.

The Engagement Scholarship Consortium's Awards Program recognizes higher education institutions and their exemplary contributions to scholarship and the practice of engaged scholarship. In 2022, ESC will hold its Awards and Recognition Ceremony during the ESC Annual Conference (Sept. 21-22). In addition to participation in the Awards and Recognition program, category winners will be invited to share their exemplary program experiences during an Award Recipients Panel presentation.