AAN Nodes

The Academic Advancement Network is organized around four nodes, each covering a topic that is crucial to the development of the careers of faculty and academic staff. They are: Academic Career Paths, Leadership Development, Research and Scholarship, and Teaching and Learning.

Academic Career Paths Node

University careers today involve multiple pathways and possibilities. For a number of decades, the academic career typically has been defined as a straight-forward progression through the levels of the tenure system; however, individual circumstances and institutional employment options now create a range of academic career possibilities. Thus, faculty and academic staff members today experience their careers in a range of ways, depending on their career stages, disciplines, appointment types, and personal circumstances. This node recognizes the diversity in individuals’ experiences, interests, expectations, and needs, and provides support for faculty and academic staff striving to create meaningful and productive professional and personal lives in alignment with and contributing to the institution’s mission.

Leadership Development Node

New or aspiring leaders often have concerns about their ability to succeed or enjoy the job; typical worries include preparation, workload, and handling conflict, especially involving personnel. AAN sees these as ideal topics for starting conversations and building skills. The node’s work focuses on two broad areas: facilitation for current campus leaders and cultivation of future leaders. To supplement existing short-term orientations and cohort programs, this node is adding longitudinal support in group and individual settings. This will include programming that brings chairs and directors together in cohorts to develop peer support relationships and also more individualized mentoring and shadowing or embedding opportunities. At the same time, the node will work across campus to identify diverse academics with leadership potential and to support their development as they consider and take on these types of roles.

Research and Scholarship Node

Building and sustaining impactful research and scholarship programs is a complex undertaking that depends upon advancing personal career aspirations through significant contributions to one’s discipline and academic institution. Recognizing that research is one domain of an integrated academic career, efforts will be made to provide interventions that position individuals to leverage connections of scholarship, research and creative activities to other career domains, including teaching and service opportunities. While scholarship is often centered as academic engagement in a particular disciplinary arena, approaches for building sustained and high-impact research/scholarship have common guiding principles, which provide opportunities for centralized support and progressive collaboration with college-level faculty development efforts. At the same time, innovative approaches to complex, multi-dimensional questions and issues of national and international concern are increasingly only tractable using multi- or interdisciplinary approaches. This node positions academics to explore strategic approaches to promoting interdisciplinary connections as a way of stimulating high-impact interdisciplinary research at MSU.

Teaching and Learning Node

The teaching and learning function of the Academic Advancement Network is focused fundamentally on teacher learning, understood as a locus of innovation. This node’s work encompasses the coordinated development of undergraduate learning assistants, graduate teaching assistants, and professional academics. It is connected with the related work underway in the broader campus nexus of disciplinary groups, departments, colleges, and affinity groups. Its fundamental aims are to help the MSU academic community develop both a core of shared learning goals for teacher learning that transcend disciplinary boundaries and also communities of practice that integrate across related disciplinary clusters in novel ways.