To build capacity for and generate best practices around community-engaged teaching, learning, and scholarship
“A university is around to help [students] discover themselves, to unfold and be the magnificent human beings they are capable of being. So let’s give them a chance to do some thinking about it as they go along, as they discover this big universe of work, knowledge, leadership, enjoyment, fulfillment, and so on. Let them find out what’s inside of themselves, and let it come out.”
The words of NC State Chancellor Emeritus John T. Caldwell—spoken in reference to undergraduates—powerfully express my view of the fundamental purpose of education. As I see it, his words apply not only to students but to all who are touched by the academy: to faculty, staff, and administrators; to citizens and community partners; to institutions and organizations. These words point to the capacity for growth and to the centrality of inquiry in bringing that potential to fruition. They call for agency: for intentionality and responsibility. They anchor my work at the interface of community and campus and define my way of being as an educator. They provide a developmental lens through which I conceptualize, implement, and support change-oriented pedagogies of engagement.
"We have to keep striving, not only towards fulfilling the hope that all students will become active citizens,
but the intention that they will be active citizens, that they will be committed to changing their own lives and the lives of those around them, both now and in the future.”
The words of one of my former students, Erin, express my corollary conviction that much is to be gained if we all come to see educational institutions as the "real world" rather than only as a time and place of preparation for that world. By positioning students fully alongside faculty and community members as co-educators, co-learners, and co-generators of knowledge, community-engaged teaching, learning, and scholarship are powerful mechanisms for engaging students -- indeed, all of us -- with the world, now.
Core Strategy: Curricular Engagement
Curricular engagement involves the intentional, collaborative, and systematic design of community-engaged teaching, learning, and scholarship. Community organizations, community residents, students, faculty, and administrators/staff collaborate to understand and resolve contemporary challenges and to envision and create future opportunities through the integration of:
- Engaged pedagogies: Use of critical reflection on community-engaged experience to generate and document academic and civic learning, personal and professional development, and critical thinking
- Engaged partnerships: Commitment to sustainable, often mutually-transformative relationships among students, faculty/staff, and community members that produce both short-term benefits and long-term, systemic change
- Engaged scholarship: Co-generation of knowledge, collaborative public problem-solving, and the creation of promising practices and possibilities
Positioning all participants as co-educators, co-learners, and co-generators of knowledge, curricular engagement builds individual, organizational, institutional, and societal capacity for change agency and democratic civic engagement.