What Is a Scholar-Practitioner?

The term scholar-practitioner refers to an individual who participates in an academic program, such as to obtain an undergraduate or graduate degree, with the intent of entering the world to apply her learning for practical and positive purposes. The student focuses on improving her community by combining her academic studying with a question-oriented approach to learning and creating solutions.

In academia, a scholar is someone who focuses on the study of a particular field or concept for a length of time, often with the end goal of earning a degree in the field or conducting research within it. Many educational institutions seek to help students evolve the passive role of a scholar into one that incorporates action and change, thus developing the concept of the scholar-practitioner. This role requires the student to obtain the same amounts of knowledge and undergo the same educational processes, but with the end goal of putting that knowledge to use within another context.

For example, a scholar-practitioner who studies a particular field within organizational management may set out to improve the structure of local community groups to provide more engaging and positive programs for youths. Similarly, a scholar-practitioner in organic chemistry may work to find better processes for food preservation to remove the need for harmful chemicals. The basic concept in each scenario is that academic does not simply study the field, but takes what she learns and applies it within her life to solve real-world problems.