In 1990 Ernest Boyer introduced his model of scholarship in order to broaden and redefine academic life past its traditional research orientation, the scholarship of discovery.

Boyer’s original model was cyclical, but since it represents a process, I prefer to present it as a spiral, with scholarship moving forward through time.

scholarship spiral

Four Processes of Scholarship

Boyer proposed that scholarship includes:

  1. The scholarship of discovery (advancing knowledge) that includes original or basic research that advances knowledge.

  2. The scholarship of integration (synthesising knowledge) that synthesises of information across disciplines, across topics within a discipline, or across time (i.e., interprofessional education, or science communication).

  3. The scholarship of application (applying or advancing knowledge, also called the scholarship of engagement) that goes beyond the service duties of a scholar to those within or outside scholarly organisations (which aren’t always universities nowadays). It involves the rigour and application of disciplinary expertise with results that can be shared with or evaluated by peers.

  4. The scholarship of teaching and learning (applying or advancing knowledge) that involves the systematic study of teaching and learning processes, sometimes within a discipline. It differs from scholarly teaching in that it requires an architecture that allows public dissemination as well as the opportunity for application and evaluation by others.

I vary the definition of the fourth process, preferring to define at as scholarship through teaching and learning, not just the scholarship of teaching and learning.

It’s Like The Martian

Starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, The Martian is one of my favourite films. While fictional, it’s based on some established research-generated knowledge. Hence, it’s probably pretty close to how Martian exploration will proceed (except I hope for the disaster bit).

Across the film, we see a number of moments of discovery both on Mars and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. These spiral into the synthesis of knowledge, as the ground and space crews race to rescue Damon’s character, Mike Whatney. The knowledge is applied to help Whatney survive and ultimately to rescue him. At the end of the film, he’s seen teaching a class, followed by the launch sequence for a new mission (more discovery, based on the past scholarship spiral).

The Positive Effect of Complete Scholarship

Between 2014 and 2019, Gerold Knight (Chief Risk Officer, Coca Cola Hellenic) developed his doctorate on crisis management leadership and teams, based on his professional experience in Coca Cola. His work has changed the practice of crisis management in the company. Gerold followed the scholarship spiral and it produced something beneficial.

Scholarship is often not purposeful (aka blue-sky research), but when it is, following the spiral, great things often happen.

Completing the Scholarship Spiral is Generative

Gerold’s work advanced knowledge through discovering important patterns in the selection of crisis leadership and teams.  Along the way, he synthesised huge amounts of knowledge to develop and support his investigation, which further synthesised existing knowledge. He’s applied that knowledge to improve crisis management practice at Coca Cola. Gerold presented that knowledge in teaching at City University and in publications. A book is planned. His work will enable more discovery about crisis management. The turn of the spiral has come around.

Completing the scholarship cycle is generative. Partial scholarship is wasteful.


Boyer, E. L. (1990), Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Boyer, E. L. (1996). From scholarship reconsidered to scholarship assessed. Quest, 48(2), 129-139.

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