CSC Events

Eighth annual faculty institute focuses on option for the poor

By: JP Shortall

July 16, 2019


More than 50 participants gathered from June 4-6 to share knowledge and best practices in community-engaged teaching and research at the Center for Social Concerns’ eighth Community Engagement Faculty Institute (CEFI). The annual three-day institute brings together faculty, graduate students, and community partners to focus on community engagement as it relates to the center’s annual Catholic social tradition theme. This year’s theme was “Moving Margins: The Option for the Poor.”

The institute explored topics related to poverty and community engagement through presentations by faculty and local community leaders, and site visits in the local community. Presentations and site visits focused on poverty in various contexts: incarceration and justice, immigration and rights, work and dignity, and community health. On site visits, participants met with community leaders and their faculty partners to learn about their projects on such social concerns as educating at-risk youth, building inclusive communities for adults with developmental disabilities, expanding workforce and social re-entry programs for people after incarceration, and creating education programs for migrants seeking integration. Throughout the three days, community partners encouraged participants to think about how their academic expertise might have real-world impact in the local community.

“Academic community engagement integrates disciplinary knowledge and action for the common good in ways that advance faculty research and animate student interest and deep learning. Through engaged coursework and research, students learn how to deliver informed interventions that lead toward positive impact in the community,” said Connie Snyder Mick, associate director of the Center for Social Concerns and director of the institute. “This kind of engagement is at the heart of both the center’s and the University’s missions.”

CEFI encourages participants to apply insights from engaged learning and research to their respective fields. “The principles of community-based research and teaching feel like natural extensions of my work in peace studies,” said Anna Fett, PhD student in peace studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. “The Faculty Institute helped me to think about ways to challenge the traditional, academic economy of knowledge production by finding ways to make it more inclusive to the needs and interests of the communities I study and want to engage with.”

Faculty interested in considering how their teaching and research can help advocate for impact in local communities worldwide can contact Connie Mick at


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