KU Libraries announce 2021 Shulenburger Award for Innovation & Advocacy in Scholarly Communication


During International Open Access Week, October 25-29, KU Libraries granted the 2021 David Shulenburger Award for Innovation & Advocacy in Scholarly Communication to two recipients — the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and KU instructor Dr. Meggie Mapes.

The School of Social Welfare was recognized for advocating for open sharing practices throughout the field of social work. Mapes, course director and assistant specialist in the Department of Communication Studies, was honored for her work in promoting open educational resources (OER) in the field of communication studies.

School of Social Welfare: Propelling lifelong learning through OER

The KU School of Social Welfare believes that open access to the latest literature and research for their field is not only critical for students, but equally essential to practitioners’ professional growth. Providing free access can help students and social work professionals improve their skill sets, add depth to areas where they may not be as well informed, and introduce entirely new interventions and clinical approaches. 

“It is more urgent than ever that scholars find meaningful, accurate, and compelling ways to communicate their findings to the public,” said Melinda Lewis, associate director of the school’s Center for Community Engagement & Collaboration. “The challenges we face as a society demand rigorous scientific examination, but catalyzing the collective will to utilize research findings to change policies and practices will require talking with people beyond the academy — and getting more skilled and thoughtful about doing so well.”

In granting the award, Kevin L. Smith, Dean of KU Libraries, said, “The School of Social Welfare has demonstrated a systematic and enthusiastic approach to modeling and encouraging open sharing practices throughout the academic lifecycle. The school’s Research Office has made robust efforts to increase community access to and dialogue around scholarly work.”

Dr. Amy Mendenhall, Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development, and Dean Michelle Mohr Carney sought to develop a book that would provide a look into the Strengths Perspective history as well as its use today. Given the widespread impact of the Strengths Perspective on social work practice, it was critically important to Mendenhall and Carney that the work be freely available to individuals outside of academia. With guidance and support from Marianne Reed, the editors partnered with the KU Libraries in 2020 to publish an open-source edited book, “Rooted in Strengths: Celebrating the Strengths Perspective in Social Work,” which is fully available on KU ScholarWorks.

“I published two chapters in the school’s open access book celebrating the anniversary of the Strengths Perspective at KU — these chapters have been read and cited numerous times and other scholars and community members have shared the impact the book has had on them,” said Associate Professor Meg Paceley.

Meggie Mapes: A commitment to expanding OER at KU and beyond

Mapes created an OER for public speaking courses called Speak Out, Call In: Public Speaking as Advocacy, which has been developed each semester for KU students and adopted by between 10 and 20 other institutions. Her advocacy for OER saved students tens of thousands of dollars collectively.

Mapes created a group called COMM Studies OER, a network of scholars comprised of more than 85 active members. She delivers training for communication studies to those seeking to adopt, adapt and create open educational materials and she has created a document to track OER in her field across topic areas.

“The public speaking OER Dr. Mapes authored has generated an impressive and positive impact for KU students,” Smith said. “Her commitment to expanding the spread of OER is clearly evidenced through her amplification and support of colleagues’ work in this area, her development of a network among engaged communications scholars, and her dedicated commitment to training. Her tenacity and passion are inspiring — a model to all.” 

Granted annually, the Shulenburger Award recognizes KU staff, faculty, students and academic departments that demonstrate outstanding efforts to facilitate open access by creating a variety of open channels for public communication between scholars and community members across the globe. Former KU Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger, a longtime advocate for open access, established the award with a private gift in 2014 to recognize KU community members demonstrating exceptional advocacy and innovation in the scholarly communication system.

“The David Shulenburger Award for Innovation & Advocacy in Scholarly Communication honors exceptional efforts to advance innovations in open sharing and advocacy for positive change in the scholarly communication system,” said Beth M. Whittaker, Associate Dean, KU Libraries, and chair of the award selection committee. “The committee commends the important efforts of the School of Social Welfare and Meggie Mapes. Their work to promote and support open access to scholarly work benefits researchers, practitioners, and society at large.”

Learn more about Open Access news, policy, and impact at KU.