Civic Action Conference 2017

Civic Action Conference 2017

We thank everyone who joined us today! We are especially grateful to the faculty members and students who shared their innovative work, and appreciate the campus and community guests who came to learn and connect with the spirit of community engagement.

The entire program was recorded and will be available for viewing on three local channels: Channel 195, the Eastern program channel on Charter Cable TV, on the Eastern YouTube channel and on the CCE website. The schedule is listed below with workshop abstracts for your review.

If you have comments or suggestions or ideas for potential engagement activity do not hesitate to contact the CCE. Our doors are wide open!

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Civic Action Conference 2017 Agenda
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Student Center, Eastern Connecticut State University


8:30 am – 9:00 am        Registration

9:00 am – 9:30 am        Introduction
                                      Carmen Cid, Dean

                                      Presentation of the Civic Action Plan
                                      Kim Silcox and Nicolas Simon

9:30 am  – 11:00 am    The Pedagogies of Service Learning

David Stoloff, Professor, Department of Education
Mark Fabrizi, Assistant Professor, Department of Education
Terry Lennox, Professor, Department of Art and Art History

11:00 am – 12:30 pm    The Collaborative Practice of Service Learning

Luna Nájera, Assistant Professor, Department of World Languages and Cultures
with Lora Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History
Denise Matthews, Professor, Department of Communication
John Murphy, CCE Communication Coordinator & Department of Communication Faculty

12:30 pm  – 1:30 pm    Networking Lunch with Community Partners
                                      Betty R. Tipton Room

Selected community partners and students who have participated in service learning courses will explore potential partnerships with you and your students. Student Leaders from the Center for Community Engagement will be present to share how their experiences leading programs in the local community have enhanced their learning in the classroom.

1:30 pm  –  3:00 pm    The Research and Creation of Service Learning

Robert Greene, Assistant Professor of Sculpture, Department of Art and Art History
Kristen Morgan, Associate Professor and Alycia Bright-Holland, Assistant Professor, Department of Performing Arts
Nicolas Simon, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology, and Social Work
Fatma Pakdil, Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration, Arthur Gifford, Kyle Bulmer, and Ryan Vaillancourt.

3:00 pm –  4:00 pm    Keynote Speaker

“Community or Political Engagement? Educating for Democracy in Troubled Times”

Rick Battistoni, Professor of Political Science & Public and Community Service Studies, and Director, Feinstein Institute for Public Service, Providence College.

4:00 pm –  4:15 pm    Closing Remarks



The Pedagogies of Service Learning
9:30 am to 11:00 am

Documenting and Reflecting on Service-Learning for Future Teachers
David Stoloff, Professor, Department of Education

Students in a Tier I Social Sciences course, EDU 110, Contemporary Issues in Education, are encouraged to participate in CCE projects in local schools and community centers.  The students complete Pre-Education Service Hours forms to document their interactions with individual or groups of learners.  They also write reflections on these experiences at mid-term and at semester’s end.  These hours of service-learning may be included in the 50 hours of service-learning in schools required for admissions to teacher education programs at Eastern.  Future teachers may participate in this conference session to discuss the impact of this service-learning on their professional development.

Service Learning in Education: A Constructivist Approach
Mark Fabrizi, Assistant Professor, Department of Education

What are some of the current issues in education?  How do those issues impact educators as they work with students?  These two questions are central to EDU 110: Contemporary Issues in the Education of Children.  This student-centered presentation will provide an overview of the constructivist approach taken in this introductory education course and the perspectives of currently-enrolled students who will share the challenges and successes they experience as they work with young people in local schools.

A Toolbox for Democracy: Designing with the Community
Terry Lennox, Professor, Department of Art and Art History

Students with a Digital Art & Design concentration or minor, and New Media Studies majors with a Digital Media Design (Visual Arts) concentration have opportunities to participate in civic engagement and social responsibility through real-world projects involving the local community and eastern region of Connecticut. Historically, the Digital Art & Design program has incorporated real-world projects into curriculum through Eastern Design Group (a senior capstone course), internships, and occasional special topics courses, averaging under 20 student participants per academic year.

During the 2016-17 academic year, the number of student participants increased to over 70 through the initiative of Digital Art & Design faculty who now incorporate significant, structured high-impact service-learning into two additional courses, Graphic Design II and Graphic Design III. Faculty coordinate with Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Community Engagement for introductions, advice, and support in building relationships with Eastern’s “Community Partners.” In addition to increased benefits to the community, the pre-professional learning experience for students increases in scope and complexity as they progress through the curriculum. By participating in civic engagement as students, a foundation is laid to continue as engaged citizens in future careers. Students learn the rich reward of successfully working together and knowing that their individual talents and design skills can bring about positive change—social justice, equal opportunity, socio-cultural respect, and an inclusive society.

The Collaborative Practice of Service Learning
11:00 am to 12:30 pm

Civic Engagement Through Picture Books.
Luna Nájera, Assistant Professor, Department of World Languages and Cultures and Lora Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History

Prof. Luna Nájera will speak about a community engagement learning project in her Advanced Spanish language course involving the writing and reading of children’s books. She will also discuss plans for expanding the project through a cross disciplinary collaboration that involves partnering with Digital Art and Design Prof. Lora Li.

Prof. Li will join her in a discussion of future plans for the project, tentatively called “The Young Authors and Illustrators Project.” They will both discuss how the project, the fruits of which will include the publication of picture books, conjoins civic engagement with the creation of opportunities for students to deepen their experiences as teachers and digital designers.

Clients Spur Achievement
Denise Matthews, Professor, Department of Communication

I have taught a basic Video Field production course in the Communication Department for the last 14 years. Often we have offered students the opportunity to create video projects for community entities—from the Chamber of Commerce, to the Willimantic Food Co-op, Third Thursday, WAIM, etc.  This was service learning but a lot of the legwork to solicit and connect with these community members was on me.These projects have suddenly become a lot easier and better now that the CCE has brought John Murphy on board to act as a liaison between the University and the community.

This model was one that was envisioned as Kim Silcox worked to create the CCE as an element of the Strategic Plan many years ago. I was on that committee –we called it Coffee—I can’t remember why—but in our many meetings about what the CCE should look like we determined that the academic and service components needed a structural link—A designated and experienced liaison position is key—I am especially thrilled that the liaison is John Murphy who has been a part-time faculty member of the Communication Department for over 3 decades. He is a prodigious and talented producer of media and he provides an enormous value –added component to these production class. We have two semesters under our belts and look forward to more projects that will teach students how to conduct this creative and technical work within a client relationship—which is of course quite different than making a video for your buddies. In fact, although the quality of the work is very important, the experience that students acquire in the process of working as a professional with a client may be the most important component of their learning experience.

A Media Toolbox for Service Learning, Internships, Research and Community Development
John Murphy, Instructor, Department of Communication

Local media and digital platforms are underutilized as resources for universities, scholars and community service organizations. Cost and access can be limiting factors but strategic leveraging of resources and content among partners can be powerful and successful. I will share several examples during my presentation. These projects are not only important assets for the organizations and people served—they are opportunities for students to create valuable material for their personal portfolios for future study or work.

The work I do at the Center for Community Engagement and my teaching in the Communication Department is a direct application of an integrated community media model I developed over many years of production of radio and TV programs, article writing and academic service at Eastern. Components include a creative mix of local radio and public access TV channels, related radio and TV websites, local print, social media and the Internet.

The purpose and function of higher education in our society is at a historic turning point. Faculty and students live in a maelstrom of uncertainty and change at the deepest levels, challenging all norms and traditions. A human and holistic use of media and technology in the classroom and community, beyond entertainment and consumer paradigms, is one way to connect service learning and internships with the engine of volunteerism and the gift of positive energy and hope for a better future that students bring to class every day. I look forward to sharing this spirit with you at the conference!

The Research and Creation of Service Learning
1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Visual Biography: A Creative Collaboration between Eastern Art Students and Elderly Adults.
Robert Greene, Assistant Professor of Sculpture, Department of Art and Art History.

As an Eastern Alumni, I have greatly benefited from the liberal arts education provided. While I was a student, I had a part time job at a group home. This gave me the opportunity to work with people with special needs both mental, physical, and the elderly. The humility and social cognizance one learns working in such fields is truly astonishing.

The concept is a “Visual Biography”, a collaboration between Art Students and elderly adults in the community. This is based on a past project my students completed called  “Visual Autobiography” where students were given the freedom to express themselves artistically as they created art based on a personal, life changing experience. (visual examples will be shared).

With the help of the Art Club, I hope to create an opportunity for students to work alongside multiple elderly individuals, co-creating a visual interpretation of that person’s life, telling their story through traditional, conceptual, or digital means. This would be a semester long project, ending with a show on campus. Both parties will be involved, a dialog created, friendships born, and art made.

Devising Thread City: Performance as Public Dialogue
Kristen Morgan, Associate Professor, and Alycia Bright-Holland, Assistant Professor, Department of Performing Arts.

Thread City is a multimedia performance, co-devised at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) by Professors Kristen Morgan and Alycia Bright Holland, in collaboration with students, residents of Windham, Connecticut, ECSU’s Center for Community Engagement and Center for Connecticut Studies, the Windham Textile & History Museum, members of the ECSU faculty, and other contributors. Interviews with community members and archival oral histories of Windham residents inspired the stories told in Thread City. The play’s narrative was developed through two integrated Theatre courses in Spring of 2017; Experimental Theatre and Public Dialogue. The choreography and design of Thread City, developed in class and work shopped several times for a public audience, will be produced as a main stage Theatre production in October 2017.  ECSU will hold public performances of Thread City in the new Fine Arts Instructional Center, which will coincide with a community/campus celebration, post-performance audience talkbacks, and a high-school matinee “Day of Theatre”. The creators hope that the community will feel empowered by seeing their personal narrative celebrated, and will develop a deeper connection with ECSU.

Knowing and Promoting the Windham/Willimantic Community
Nicolas Simon, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology, and Social Work.

During this presentation, I will discuss how I transformed my Introduction to Sociology course to focus on the Windham/Willimantic Community. The main objective is to help students to discover and appreciate an important aspect of the Liberal Art Curriculum: Civic Engagement. To do so, I created three sub-objectives to help students to 1) analyze their understanding of the community, 2) do research in the community, and 3) participate in creating a positive image of the community. Each objective is operationalized by an assignment. The first assignment asks students to describe the image they possess of the community and analyze where it is coming from. The second assignment invites students to interview people working in the community and describe the assets they observe. The last assignment encourages students to create a media page promoting the assets of the community.

Operations Management Course Students Demonstrate Liberal Arts Practically Applied, Gaining Real Life Experience and Supporting Our Community of Local Businesses!
Fatma Pakdil, Associate Professor, Department of Business Administration, with Arthur Gifford, Kyle Bulmer, and Ryan Vaillancourt.

 BUS 260 undergraduate project groups worked with local businesses and analyzed several operations management related topics. They collaborated with companies located in our community by focusing on their problems, issues, and projects so students could see the real life applications and practices of topics covered in the course. Teams of three students worked with the help of company and academic mentors. In addition to the examples and practice questions analyzed in class, having a real case with various topics to work on was more challenging, informative and showed students what they can expect after graduation.

The Supply Chain Management Project students who will join me are Arthur Gifford, Kyle Bulmer and Ryan Vaillancourt. They worked on Lead Time Reduction through Raw Material Planning for General Cable and analyzed a comprehensive data set including historical data collected by the firm. ABC analysis (an inventory categorization technique) was simply implemented to categorize the raw material. The results of the project were implemented in decision making processes.

Keynote Speaker
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Rick Battistoni, Professor of Political Science & Public and Community Service Studies, and Director, Feinstein Institute for Public Service, Providence College

“Community or Political Engagement? Educating for Democracy in Troubled Times”

Over the past twenty years, questions have been raised about the connections between community and political engagement, indeed, whether there were or should be any connections at all between the two. Over a decade ago, in 2007, concerned about the seeming disconnect between community engagement and political engagement, the Carnegie Foundation’s Political Engagement Project encouraged higher education to direct its engagement work more explicitly toward educating for participation in democracy and public life. Later that year, CIRCLE and the Kettering Foundation published results from a study titled “Millennials Talk Politics,” which made recommendations about how colleges and universities could better educate students for political engagement. And yet, a decade later, college students seem more disengaged from politics, at least as politics is traditionally understood. Our current political landscape is full of craters, and our public discourse has become more polarized, with charges of “incivility” and “hate speech” being made on our campuses and in our communities from all sides of the political spectrum. This keynote will attempt to confront the current political climate and discuss the challenges and opportunities it presents for higher education, as well as how our work in community engagement might foster more effective political learning and action.