Above: Adrienne Falcon (left), Professor of Public and Non-Profit Leadership at Metro State University, delivered the keynote at the ACM workshop “Institutionalizing Community-Based Pedagogies at Liberal Arts Colleges.”
Faculty understand and agree on the value of undergraduate research and what it takes to support it, but there is less common understanding when it comes to community-based learning and research, according to a November 2021 survey from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest to its members.
The survey and the ensuing workshop, “Institutionalizing Community-Based Pedagogies at Liberal Arts Colleges,” held July 14-15, 2022, at Lake Forest College, were part of the ACM’s Collaboration to Institutionalize High-Impact Practices in the Liberal Arts. Through the project, funded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, ACM faculty and staff are working to understand the best practices in undergraduate research, community-based learning, and their intersection – community-based research – and disseminate them throughout the higher education community.
Over two days, 31 ACM faculty and staff gathered to explore and unpack the ambiguities around community-based learning and research and discuss such questions as: Why should ACM campuses prioritize these community-based pedagogies? When should they be deployed? And how can ACM colleges elevate their status to that of undergraduate research?
Attendees also benefited from the expertise and insight offered by Adrienne Falcon, Professor of Public and Non-Profit Leadership and Director of the Master’s Program for Advocacy and Political Leadership, Metro State University, who delivered the keynote, “Opportunities and Challenges in Institutionalizing Community Based Pedagogies at Liberal Arts Colleges.” Falcon previously was Founding Director of Academic Civic Engagement and Lecturer in Sociology at Carleton College.
I believe in community-based pedagogies not only as a high-impact practice that increases student success and retention, but also as a way to further leverage the knowledge, skills, and resources that exist on campus to solve problems in communities.”
—Mark Jenike, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Lawrence University
Mark Jenike, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Lawrence University, has witnessed the value of community-based pedagogies in his courses and on his campus.
“For my teaching, community-based research has been a way to facilitate qualitative jumps in student self-efficacy and ambition and the development of transferable skills. When students take responsibility for community outcomes, they attach new meaning and significance to their academic training and the rigor with which they pursue it,” he said. “I believe in community-based pedagogies not only as a high-impact practice that increases student success and retention, but also as a way to further leverage the knowledge, skills, and resources that exist on campus to solve problems in communities.”
Jenike found the workshop and opportunity to connect with other ACM faculty and staff offered tangible strategies for institutionalizing community-based pedagogies, such as communicating how they advance campus priorities, including well-being and community relations. “We need to be intentional about storytelling and do it well if we want to attain and sustain institutionalization of high-impact practices,” he said. “This is an area in which the humanities and fine arts could make great contributions.”
The workshop served to identify common themes and aspirations that participants and other ACM faculty and staff can pursue in the project’s next phase, a round of competitive grant funding in which ACM will award $100,000 to support collaborative project ideas to drive and institutionalize high-impact practices on and across the 14 campuses.
Among the collaborative project ideas that emerged during the workshop were: mapping initiatives to assess the nature and scope of community-based pedagogies already occurring on ACM campuses; collaborative professional development opportunities to support ACM faculty and staff as they design and implement these pedagogies; and various community-based projects that might benefit from a collaborative approach. Examples include summer literacy programs with local school districts; outreach, learning, and research projects in partnership with incarcerated populations; and food access and security issues in ACM campus communities.
The ACM will send a Call for Pre-Proposals to the member colleges in September to encourage workshop participants and other interested ACM faculty and staff to submit collaborative project ideas in pursuit of high-impact strategies. Pre-proposal applications will be due in October, and those invited to submit full proposals will do so in December. The regranting phase will conclude in December 2023, at which point the ACM will work closely with the funded project teams to plan and host a summative ACM conference in Spring 2024.
“The discussions and ideas that arose during the workshop at Lake Forest College were truly inspiring, and the ACM is grateful to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for providing the funding to explore these ideas and carry them forward,” said Brian Williams, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at ACM. “The ACM looks forward to reviewing the collaborative project ideas and sharing the best practices our faculty and staff learn with our consortium and the liberal arts and higher education communities.”