Contemporary challenges in community engagement and service learning for Catholic institutions
Dr Howard Rosing, DePaul University
Prof Sandra Jones, Australian Catholic University
ACU and DePaul share both a strong commitment to community engagement/service learning and an underpnning philosophy. We work to build meaningful engagement initiatives through long-term partnership-building with organisations that support people living on the margins; and we recognise and promote mutual benefits for students and community partners. We also seek to create academically-embedded community engagement that provides students with opportunities to grow intellectually, personally and socially. However, we also recognise that CE/SL poses a range of challenges for students, for staff/faculty, and for community partners; thus we apply a critical lens to how community engagement experiences are structured and implemented.
Our goals for conference attendees are to learn to better facilitate ways of learning while transforming society, explore what it means to build meaningful relationships between higher education institutions and communities, identify ways to overcome the barriers to meaningful engagement between students, staff (administrative and academic) community partners, and to learn what academically-driven community engagement means at two mission-driven Catholic universities.
In this presentation we pose questions for attendees to consider throughout the conference and when they return to their workplaces:
- How do we effectively communicate the what and why of CE/SL to our diverse groups of students while staying true to our institutional faith backgrounds?
- How do we increasingly and effectively embed CE/SL learning into curriculum without it being seen as an 'add-on' or burden to staff/faculty and students?
- How do we develop our CE/SL praxis in ways that are responsive to community realities, and the increasingly corporate nature of modern universities?
- How do we build a sustainable partnership for learning, sharing and collaborating on community engagement between ACU and DePaul?
Using the wisdom of others and our own experiences to design an ethical and responsive model for institutional community engagement
A/Prof Billy Osteen, University of Canterbury
What does it take for a university to design and implement an ethical and responsive model of community engagement? Too often the town and gown relationship is fraught with rowdy students living amongst long term residents or well-meaning researchers entering into communities to extract data without considering mutually beneficial outcomes. It may well take tragic or severe circumstances to mitigate the large and imposing footprint of our institutions. For the University of Pennsylvania, the murder of a student on campus led it to examine the lack of a relationship it had with the local community, which is one of the poorest areas in the US. The result was an institutional imperative for community engagement through the development of the renowned Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Similarly, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans forced Tulane University to deal with tragedy by closing its doors for a semester. When it reopened, there was an institution wide focus on being an active partner for the rebuild of the city through the establishment of the Center for Public Service, which administers the requirement that every student takes two service-learning courses before graduating. At the University of Canterbury, we used these examples to create an academic response to the thousands of our students who provided immediate assistance to Christchurch residents following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. What are the lasting lessons from universities’ responses to dramatic circumstances and how might we do so when the situation isn’t so dire?
Service learning’s role in student success at DePaul
Prof Caryn Chaden, DePaul University
Juxtaposing Barbara Holland’s model of institutional commitment to service and with David Kalsbeek’s model for institutional strategies for improving retention rates, Chaden argues that an institutional commitment to service learning can contribute to improving rates of degree completion. Data from DePaul’s Community Service Studies minor will illustrate this connection.
Incorporating global learning exchanges and course-based action research: pedagogical opportunities for Australian Catholic University and DePaul University
Prof Nila Ginger Hofman, DePaul University
In this presentation, I discuss two possible approaches to engaged service learning and suggest a blended approach of the two in collaboration between Australian Catholic University and DePaul. Global Learning Exchanges (GLE) is a relatively new framework for internationalizing university courses and thereby providing cross-cultural experiences for our students. Course-based Action Research (CBAR) is an only slightly older umbrella term that incorporates community-focused and social justice-orientated research.
Key themes arising from day one and two of conference (and ten tips for successful cross-institutional collaborations)
Dr Matthew Pink, Australian Catholic University
This presentation will discuss the synthesis of key themes and discourse from the first two days of the ACU and DePaul Conference on Community Engagement and Service Learning. The presentation will then discuss tips for successful cross-institutional collaborations as academics at the conference seek to leverage expertise and co-create in new Community Engagement and Service Learning Initiatives.