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Faculty Institute Gathers Participants to Discuss Community Engagement Pedagogy

By: Nathalia Casiano

June 14, 2016

 

The 2016 Center for Social Concerns (CSC) Community Engagement Faculty Institute (CEFI) was held May 24–26. Now in its fifth year, the Institute gathers community partners, faculty, and graduate students from around the country and from abroad to explore and deepen their knowledge of community-based teaching and research.

The Institute was first held in 2012, and was created as a response to the growing interest in community-based learning at the University. Each year it has brought around 30 participants for three days of lectures and community partner site visits that address a core theme. For 2016, the overarching theme of "Poverty" was framed by daily topics of "Incarceration & Justice," "Immigration & Rights," and "Work & Dignity"—each respectively focused on community, student, and faculty impact.

This was the first year in which the Faculty Institute was open to participants and presenters from outside the University or the South Bend community. Interest was particularly strong among faculty from universities that participate in the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty, a consortium whose intent is "to prepare students for a lifetime of professional, civic and political activity that will diminish poverty, drawing on a multitude of perspectives and initiatives." Member schools work to integrate rigorous, interdisciplinary poverty studies courses and internships into undergraduate education, and the Faculty Institute provides a very effective and adaptable framework for the kinds of teaching and research that transform students and communities long-term.

More than half of this year's participants were from other institutions, including Indiana University South Bend, Niagara University, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Middlebury College, Bucknell University, Manchester University, Hendrix College, Lynchburg College, Furman University, and Washington and Lee University.

Community partner site visits helped participants witness the positive results of long-standing relationships between the University and the South Bend community. Whether at the Center for the Homeless, Goodwill Industries of Michiana, LOGAN Center, the Juvenile Justice Center, Sister Maura Brannick, C.S.C., Medical Center or the Civil Right Heritage Center, participants heard from community partners about their working relationships with students, faculty, and the University.

Faculty Institute director, Connie Mick explains that the Institute gathers people with a genuine commitment to community revitalization and the reduction of poverty. "This year, our focus on poverty at the local and national level led us to have critical conversations about what works and what doesn't in managing and, ideally, reducing poverty. Our local community partners explained their role in addressing poverty and presented best practices for how faculty can work with the community to do engaged teaching and research in any discipline."   

In 2017, the Faculty institute will consider the Center for Social Concerns annual theme, "Solidarity as Soul of Development."  Faculty interested in considering how their teaching and research can help advocate for impact in local communities worldwide may apply to the 2017 Faculty Institute now.

 

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