From the Editor: Special Conference Issue Is Indicative of Growth in Engagement Scholarship Throughout the World
As editor of JCES, it is indeed with pride, enthusiasm, and anticipation that this special conference issue is provided at the 2013 Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) meeting, an evolutionary outcome of the group that annually presented what has been known as the National Outreach Scholarship Conference (NOSC). This issue of JCES, as well as the shift from NOSC to ESC, is indicative of the dynamic growth in engagement scholarship. There is a surreal feeling, knowing that this issue of JCESis a special NOSC 2012 (the last conference under that name) put together specifically for circulation at the first conference under the auspices of ESC. Representing some of the best engagement scholarship there is today, the diversity of manuscripts, topics, and authors in this issue are as varied as was attendance at NOSC 2012.
Pneumonia and diarrhea can be addressed with early detection and education, yet low rates of literacy and high rates of poverty impact the ability of parents in rural Guatemala to recognize and seek treatment for their children. This article describes the health promotion program implemented to address these and other common health problems in one isolated community. A promotora program utilizes informal, indigenous leaders within the community to promote health in Latino populations. Developing a health education program based on the promotora concept empowered the women of the community by giving them the knowledge and skills to improve the health of their families and their community. The lessons learned from this culturally-based health promotion model are appropriate for application in local and international communities.
This essay reflects on the power of storytelling and narrative in a collaborative partnership that engaged undergraduate pre-service English as Second Language (ESL) candidates and their professor with local ESL high school teachers, immigrant and refugee students, and their families. It describes how undergraduate students worked with teachers and students to collect stories and publish a multilingual book about their journeys, memories of home, and transitions into their new life in the United States. This project and the resulting self-published book, which was shared at several community and public events, exemplify the fundamentals of reciprocal and transformative partnerships. The nature and importance of such partnerships are examined, including recommendations for similar undertakings, and a discussion about how the book students and families were empowered by sharing their voices. It closes by examining how the book became a tangible means to transcend the initial partnership and to promoting new understandings and relationships through sustained community engagement.
“Beyond My Imagination”: Learning the Sociology of Poverty Through Service After the Tuscaloosa Tornado
In recent years, educators from diverse academic disciplines have created service learning courses in response to natural disasters. However, sociology courses have been slow to integrate service learning after disasters. In this paper, the learning experiences of fourteen students enrolled in a service learning course during the Fall 2011 semester at the University of Alabama are analyzed, four months after the April 27, 2011 tornado event. In this course, entitled Gender and Poverty, students were required to volunteer 30 hours over a 10-week period with an organization that assisted tornado survivors in addition to attending weekly class meetings and completing class assignments. Despite initial difficulties finding interactive service experiences for the students, post-tests and journal assignments indicated a shift in students’ explanations of poverty from mostly individual-level explanations to structural explanations of poverty. The service experience also emotionally transformed the students, who through their service efforts, developed empathy for storm survivors.
After taking students from The Ohio State University at Newark to Berlin and New Orleans, we recognized the many obstacles nontraditional students face in participating in such programs, and we sought innovative ways to overcome those difficulties and prepare participants for cross-cultural encounters. We developed an approach grounded in the concept of what we call cosmopolitan courtesy. Blending the notion of everyday “civility” with the philosophical and intellectual background of the concept of cosmopolitanism, we crafted a set of classroom exercises and discussion prompts that encourage students to articulate and practice strategies for coping with unfamiliar and potentially unsettling cross-cultural experiences. This preparation positions students to take full advantage of study abroad, service learning, or domestic travel courses by inviting them to see themselves as global citizens.
In July 2011, students of Oakdale Elementary in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, participated in a summer enrichment program. We learned a lot about writing and photography before we published The Eagle(Figure 1). But the writing wasn’t just regular writing; it was professional writing because we were writing a newsletter. Many of the students were excited to do the newsletter and many weren’t. They weren’t excited because they thought it was going to be boring. We focused on interviewing, our garden, and the final mission of the space shuttle Atlantis. Having someone from The University of Alabama was a great experience. Being in the summer program was lots of fun. Many of us were 6 or 7 years old and yet we still did a great job on the newsletter. We had help from Dr. Daniels, who is a professor at the University, as well as from Miss Spencer, our teacher. We also learned about photography and how to get just the perfect picture.
Why subject third graders to the scrutiny of scholars at an academic conference? As one example of “unconventional engagement,” The Oakdale Eagle, a newsletter established in 2011 as a result of a partnership initiated by a local elementary school, demonstrates the value of higher education responding to a call from the community. Not associated with a service-learning class or academic research but involving college students amd faculty from The University of Alabama and Stillman College, this partnership exemplified the power of volunteerism and community service. The highlight occurred when third graders, who were among the first to write stories for The Oakdale Eagle, made a presentation at the 2012 National Outreach Scholarship Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In addition to contrasting conventional and unconventional community engagement, this article charts the five steps in a unique community-initiated partnership.
Partnership Process Guidelines: Social Work Perspectives on Creating and Sustaining Real-World University-Community Partnerships
The authors, representing community practitioners, faculty, students, and administration, collaborated to produce guidelines for university-community partnerships that reflect social work’s commitment to social justice in practice, education, and research. The respective experiences and voices of the authors contribute to a wider perspective on the explicit social justice implications of partnership formation for community-based participatory research, which is a vision shared by many disciplines. These guidelines introduce a communication outline that may augment the creation and maintenance of thriving university-community partnerships across multiple disciplines that promote social justice.
Using Garden-Based Service-Learning to Work Toward Food Justice, Better Educate Students, and Strengthen Campus- Community Ties
In this article, we present several approaches for using garden-based service-learning to work toward food justice, better educate undergraduate students, and strengthen campus-community ties. We begin by introducing several key concepts related to food justice, community gardens as a strategy for strengthening food security and community development, and service-learning as a pedagogical tool for educating students about social justice, civic engagement, and personal responsibility for positive social change. We then discuss three of our service-learning projects in depth from an interdisciplinary perspective: the Fairmount Community Garden, the North Side Garden Survey, and the Como Community Garden. We evaluate the success of our approaches using multiple measures and identify the benefits our approaches have provided for undergraduates, community partners, communities served by the gardens, educators, and our university. We also discuss lessons we have learned, offer suggestions for best practices to follow in developing future garden-based service-learning projects, and compare and contrast our pedagogy with that of critical service-learning.
Regional colleges and universities are unique in their historic commitment to serve the economic, social, and cultural interests of particular communities. Drawing on the findings of a multi-site case study of two regional institutions, this paper outlines the goals of community-university interaction, then focuses more specifically on the processes of collaboration as distinct from the participants’ desired outcomes. Separating goals from process in this way allows us to explore the civic/democratic impact of these initiatives beyond their economic impact. Findings suggest that when community-university engagement initiatives focus too narrowly on economic development goals, project leaders sometimes neglect the potential of engagement initiatives as catalysts for participatory democracy, thereby limiting input from traditionally under-represented groups. Scholars and practitioners can draw from community development literature, as well as the scholarship related to community-university engagement, allowing simultaneous attention to the nature of relationships between universities and the communities they serve and the process of building inclusive relationships.
NOSC 2012 at The University of Alabama, September 30–October 3, featured three well received plenary sessions, one of which, the opening plenary, also included the conference’s keynote address.
Constituting the Presidents’ Panel were Dr. Guy Bailey, President of the University of Alabama; Dr. William V. Muse, former president of Auburn University; Dr. Lee T. Todd, Jr., former president of the University of Kentucky; and Dr. David Wilson, president of Morgan State University.
NOSC 2012 had many firsts, including the largest conference in the organization’s 13-year history and the highest number of community partner participants. But the real breakthrough was the emerging understanding and respect scholars and community partners developed for each other, which came home in a variety of ways, from the number of community partners attending to the “ah ha” moment when one delegate first understood how essential community partners are to all aspects of engaged scholarship.
Student Voices: Research Socialization: One of the Major Benefits of the 2012 International Engagement Conference
As a professional conference that brought hundreds of scholars at various levels, community partners, and students together in common purpose, NOSC 2012 proved to be an unusually rich experience for this University of Alabama graduate student. It provided a greater understanding of the field of engaged scholarship, as well as many opportunities for networking and clarifying career goals.