Call for manuscripts: Productive Tensions and Uncomfortable Conversations


Metropolitan Universities journal is pleased to announce an upcoming special issue in collaboration with the Place Based Justice Network (PBJN). This issue, “Productive Tensions and Uncomfortable Conversations,” explores challenges in place-based community engagement. We invite contributors to analyze and explicate the tensions, uncomfortable conversations, and even failures in the work that they do. PBJN has identified four dimensions of these challenges, and contributors are invited to work within one or more of these themes, or to identify additional challenges that they face in their place-based work.

  • External tensions: the conflicts or misalignment that must be navigated between the university’s priorities and the community’s interests or needs.
  • Internal tensions: the tensions between the university’s articulated values and its operational style, and how that may affect community engagement work.
  • Tensions between words and action: how impact is measured and defined.
  • Epistemic justice: how institutions recognize and value knowledge, including questions of whose knowledge matters.

We invite a wide array of contributions and we encourage collaborative efforts. While focusing on evidence-based academic journal articles we are open to include case studies, interviews and other possible formats from a variety of scholars, practitioners, and collaborators.

Submission Guidelines

We invite submissions by the extended deadline of August 1, 2023. Submissions should be prepared in accordance with the MUJ Article Submission and Editorial Guidelines and should be no more than 7,000 words (exclusive of tables, references, etc).

The journal seeks manuscripts that provide critical, evidence-based studies, including programs, policies, and application of ideas at an institutional or system level. Ideally, authors will examine efforts that have been in place long enough to show both positive and/or negative results as measured through data collection, research and/or evaluation processes. To allow readers to apply ideas and strategies in other settings, authors should provide a clear description of the challenges and lessons learned. Papers that offer descriptions of initiatives without research or evaluation elements will not be accepted.

Submit complete manuscripts following the MUJ Editorial and Submission Guidelines. Manuscripts do not need to be authored by members of PBJN. 

Please direct any questions regarding this issue to:

  • Matthew Durington, professor of anthropology and executive director of community engagement and partnerships, Towson University, at
  • Katherine Feely, director, Center for Service-Learning and Social Action, John Carroll University, at
  • Jen Britton, executive director for sustainable development strategy, Drexel University, at
  • Valerie Holton, editor, at