Winter NCCC Meetings Focus on Social Justice

How do we define difference and diversity? When when we talk about inclusion, who is in the “unnamed center”? And how do concepts of social justice inform our community engagement work?

Over 55 staff and faculty from 21 campuses explored these questions during North Carolina Campus Compact’s winter network meetings at Catawba Valley Community College (Jan. 8) and Duke University (Jan. 14). The interactive sessions were led by Dr. Silvia Bettez, UNC Greensboro associate professor of Education and author of a 2011 book, But Don’t Call Me White: Mixed Race Women Exposing Nuances of Privilege and Oppression Politics.

Dr. Bettez made her scholarly points as she facilitated peer sharing, surprised us with an online awareness test, and opened up discussions of power and privilege through an exercise drawn from Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed.

“I did love the presentation,” said Kristina Snader, who was attending her first Compact network meeting as UNCG’s new assistant director of Community Engagement. “My undergrad degree was in social justice so I enjoy thinking about these questions. And in my position I’m on the lookout all the time for creative ways to teach our students these concepts.”

Network meetings are free to staff and faculty from NC Campus Compact member campuses. Another favorite part of the day is the campus sharing session, where representatives from each school discuss new community engagement efforts.

“I get so nerdily excited over meetings like this,” confessed Kate Johnson, associate director of Community Service at Appalachian State.

In keeping with the meeting theme, several schools discussed plans to highlight social justice issues on campus. Appalachian State will build on its social justice coffee hour series to create a social action plan that can guide the school’s response to events and issues of the day and integrate these concerns into service and engagement programming. (UNC Asheville also has a social justice coffee hour.) Western Carolina University’s Social Justice Institute (coincidentally) took place last week, and NC A&T State University is planning a diversity conference for October 17. Elon’s Kernodle Center is also thinking about social justice and planning to align its work using an issue-based structure.

Campuses also shared exciting new ways of connecting with community partners. Warren Wilson College teamed with UNC Asheville and Mars Hill to host successful “community partner happy hours” last fall to encourage faculty networking with community nonprofit staff. The group is planning more gatherings this spring, including sessions on advocacy and course development. Central Piedmont Community College is hosting free, professional development workshops where local non-profit staff can take advantage of some of the college’s leadership and career service trainings. Duke University is hosting a special gathering of its domestic and international Duke Engage partners prior to the International Service-Learning Summit at Duke in early March.

During lunch, NC Campus Compact’s new executive director Leslie Garvin shared information about upcoming events and new initiatives, including plugs for the Civic Engagement Institute on “Collective Impact” (Feb. 17) and the annual PACE Conference for Service-Learning Faculty (Feb. 18). Garvin also introduced a new effort among the network’s community college members to develop a set of community engagement metrics tailored to the community college environment; and she encouraged schools to take advantage of a new online toolkit from national Campus Compact, “Designing and Delivering a Service-Learning Course.”

The summer network meetings are planned for early August 2015. For more information about the NC Campus Compact network, please contact Leslie Garvin.

Reposted from North Carolina Campus Compact

education, professional development