The final section of the book dealt with leadership and its role in the civic engagement mission of a campus. The group discussed the possibility of strengthening the presence of Andrew Furco at UMD as a means of increasing awareness of civic engagement. Also, the search for the new Director of the Office of Civic Engagement was discussed from two angles. First, that the person selected for this job should be someone who could provide a positive public presence for civic engagement here on campus. Second, when the new director is brought onto campus, this may provide a good opportunity to reinforce the message of civic engagement.
There was much discussion about the need to consider the economic times we are experiencing. These difficult financial times may be an opportunity to partner with the city of Duluth as both the city and campus struggle to meet the core objectives of their organizations/communities together. This could be an opportunity for us to save some money and build goodwill in Duluth. For example, is there any possibility that say Civil Engineering students and faculty could work with the city of Duluth on the storm water problems?
How do we continue to grow civic engagement here on campus? The group felt strongly that this growth would come from the bottom up through a variety of mechanisms:
• Sometimes civic engagement emerges naturally from situations that need to be addressed by people. In these cases the role of the Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) should be to guide these groups and provide resources to make their engagement a positive experience for them and the community.
• Teaching classes with a component of civic engagement will be a strong source of civic engagement at UMD and this should be encouraged. It was suggested that perhaps this group could develop a guide for faculty interested in exploring the use of civic engagement in their classes. This guide would discuss the benefits of civic engagement for the students (e.g., help find mentors, deep learning experiences) and the faculty member (e.g., higher student evaluations), provide some examples of ways to develop civic engagement that is truly useful to both the students and the participating community members.
There are lingering questions for the group:
• What parts of the UWM experiences would work at UMD?
• What will come from the World Café discussions?
• What are other schools doing?
• How can we improve on what is already happening here.
As this was the last meeting for the group and we are not done yet, it was decided to post a discussion on the civic engagement blog site to continue our conversation. We would like to develop some recommendations that would go to the OCE steering committee with hopes that good things can be done on campus resulting from our discussions.
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)!