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Wednesday 6 November 2013

Who are pracademics?

by Maria-David Evans

Three things everyone should know about pracademics…

      1.   Pracademics are folks who are committed to formally applying a duality to their profession complimentarily combining the best of both worlds: from academia and as a practicing public servant.

      2.   Pracademics are lifelong learners, continually enriching and improving their work, as public servants, through formal academic study and/or instruction. The corollary is also true: pracademics are academics continually improving their academic proficiency through engaging in actual public sector practice.

      3.    Pracademics excel as both public sector leaders, integrating theory into their practice and as academics enriching their academic knowledge through the application of practical experience.

Three myths about pracademics...

Myth #1:  Pracademics is the label given to former public sector leaders, who when they can’t do it any more…. teach it! 

The reality:  There is immeasurable value in formally undertaking knowledge transfer throughout the public service through this path. Decades of public sector leadership experiences being passed on to public service practitioners trying to improve their capacities and striving for excellence, should be celebrated.

Myth #2:  You can’t do both: work full time at a responsible public sector job and simultaneously  undertake lifelong learning through formal studies and/or instructing in an post-secondary setting. 

The reality:  Over 90% of my MBA students work full-time as did I throughout my career: 32 years of continuous university studies (with occasional lecturing and teaching). And with today’s institutional flexibility there are a huge range of options for incorporating lifelong learning.

Myth #3:  The term Pracademics is associated exclusively with Universities. 

The reality:  Many Pracademics either attend and/or teach at technical institutions or colleges, where instructors are specifically hired for their ability to provide practical experience combined with the theory, study and research about a specific public sector practice (eg. law, communications, human resources, etc.).   

Want to read more about pracademia?  Continue the conversation through Dr. Jared Wesley's post, "What is pracademia?" and Tracey O'Reilly's discussion of living the pracademic life.

Are you a pracademic?  IPAC Edmonton is building a stronger pracademic network and culture in Canada through initiatives like this blog.  Share your story by commenting below, and join in the discussion!

After 45 years of public service, Maria David-Evans retired from the Government of Alberta in November of 2011, where she had served as Deputy Minister since 1997 having held the DM posts in the departments of: Family and Social Services; Alberta Learning; Alberta Infrastructure; Children's Services; and Aboriginal Relations. Before joining the GoA, Ms. David-Evans built her public service career with the City of Edmonton having held senior positions in the departments of: Community and Family Services, the Planning Department and concluding her 31 year career as General Manager of Edmonton Parks and Recreation. As a lifelong learner and an obvious Pracademic, Maria attended university for 32 years and now teaches Public Sector Leadership at the University of Alberta's School of Business to MBA students. She is also an avid lifelong community volunteer and presently sits on 6 boards.

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