It’s Not About “Us”: Express Newark Prioritizing the Public Good

  • Anne Schaper Englot Rutgers University–Newark/Express Newark
  • Victor Davson Express Newark
  • Chantal Fischzang Rutgers University–Newark
  • Tamara Fleming Shine Portrait Studio
  • Nick Kline Rutgers University–Newark/Shine Portrait Studio
Keywords: community engagement; arts and culture; faculty roles and rewards; anchor institution; social design; third space


Publically engaged scholarship demands new ways of working within and outside of the academy.

Systems within the university reward faculty for individual achievements. This approach militates against working on collaborative projects because of the difficulty of explaining and quantifying one’s contribution. The culture of academia further inhibits potential collaborations and undermines even the most altruistic faculty, who are socialized to devalue the experiential, place-based knowledge of a community partner and encouraged to adopt a self-concept as “the” authority.         

But if universities are to honor their commitment to the public good, the public must be prioritized in the academic value system, which ought to encourage new modes of thinking that recognize the legitimacy of the expertise of community partners and place value on collaboration with them.

From the community perspective, there is often a lack of models for successful collaboration, with engagement by universities more often than not taking the form of exercising eminent domain or parachuting in to “fix” a problem and then abandoning the community. Community members carry with them skepticism that the university’s only use is as a source of hand-outs rather than a source of the kind of agency afforded by true collaboration.

Author Biographies

Anne Schaper Englot, Rutgers University–Newark/Express Newark

Co-Director of Express Newark, Professor of Practice of Architecture and Humanities

Victor Davson, Express Newark


Chantal Fischzang, Rutgers University–Newark

Assistant Professor of Design

Tamara Fleming, Shine Portrait Studio

Photographer, Founding Community Partner

Nick Kline, Rutgers University–Newark/Shine Portrait Studio

Associate Professor of Photography, Rutgers University–Newark; Founder & Director, Shine Portrait Studio


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