November 14th, 2008 Notes
The idea was discussed that civic engagement could be put in a capstone course that students would take at the end of their major studies. This approach would focus their civic engagement in their chosen field and send them into the community when they know more than they would earlier in their programs. For example, business students could complete a strategic planning project for a company that is working with the Center for Economic Development.
Another topic was the physical disconnect of the campus with Duluth. Being up on the hill versus downtown where most of the people are. UMD has a very limited physical presence downtown.
The best approach to infusing UMD with civic engagement is likely to come from the bottom up. Faculty would need to see value in the scholarship of engagement, which is clearly tricky for many with requirements for promotion and tenure.
There was some discussion about a move across the country of having learning communities on campus. These learning communities have students live and take classes together so they are working together and faculty being more accessible to the students. Because this type of experience is more holistic it might be a good place to work civic engagement into the students’ experiences. Vanderbilt just built a new freshman dorm around this concept. This approach would put much pressure on staff to incorporate civic engagement experiences into student life.
Interacting with students is critical for them to understand the importance of community. Faculty and staff should be more visible to students to help foster these interactions. For example, some faculty have tried to hold office hours outside office (didn’t work in Food Court but the Coffee shop might work)!