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Neighbors Supporting Neighbors: Building Institutional Capacity for Community-Based Learning at Knox and Monmouth Colleges

*Content pulled from proposal materials 

The project centers on building institutional capacity at Monmouth and Knox Colleges by working to increase buy-in to Community-based Pedagogies (CBPs) by decreasing perceived barriers to implementation. Both colleges’ new Core Curricula require students to complete a course or immersive experience with a Community/Civic Engagement designation. To date, the number of courses proposed by faculty to meet the designation requirement has been insufficient to meet the demands of the new curricula. With both colleges expanding their civic engagement staff and new faculty members joining us every year, this is an opportune time to heighten awareness of community-engaged learning, reinforce the value of collaboration between student-life staff and academic-affairs personnel, and bring community voices into the conversation.

The project’s goals are: 1) broaden the population of faculty knowledgeable in how CBPs support impactful teaching in their discipline; and 2) substantively increase the number of courses that include high-impact CBPs, which will in turn provide more opportunities to engage the community.

Our vision is that this project will be the springboard for the development of a network of faculty and staff committed to CBP opportunities at Monmouth and Knox Colleges. Participants will attend workshop(s) co-hosted by the colleges, discuss ideas for individual or collaborative projects with facilitators and participants, and generate proposals to secure stipends for projects.


The project goals are to (1) broaden the population of faculty knowledgeable in how CBP supports impactful teaching in their disciplines, and (2) substantially increase the number of courses that include high-impact, CBPs, which will in turn provide more opportunities to engage the community.


We propose two mutually reinforcing activities designed to build institutional capacity for developing and delivering Community­ Based Pedagogies (CBPs). The first is to organize workshops targeted toward faculty who are unfamiliar with CBPs in general or with how CBPs can be applied to their discipline. These workshops will be organized by the project team and led by qualified outside facilitators with expertise in CBP design, implementation, and assessment for a variety of disciplines and community partners, with a particular focus on addressing perceived CBP barriers. A second series of workshops will be targeted toward helping faculty adopt CBP into their disciplines. The focus in these workshops will include: 1) the development of long-term projects (where community partners will remain static, while student contributors will change over time) and, 2) short-term repeatable projects (for which discipline-specific examples and guidelines can be developed and reused to streamline implementation). Participants in this second workshop will be selected based upon proposal ideas reviewed by the project team.

Dissemination Strategies

As a collaboration between Knox and Monmouth, the immediate benefits of the proposed projects will impact two ACM campuses.

Anticipating ACM-sponsored workshops after the conclusion of the sponsored projects, we are prepared to share workshop resources, key discussion points, and examples of meritorious CBPs spanning a diversity of disciplines with our ACM colleagues.

Participants in our second activity workshop will be selected to span the largest possible number of distinct academic disciplines. This will help both colleges, and the broader ACM, to increase adoption of CBPs from disciplines not commonly engaged in CBP (e.g. STEM disciplines), in order to: 1.) distribute the burden of developing and implementing new CBPs that meet institutional curricular needs more equitably across disciplines; 2.) provide ACM students with more choices and opportunities for engaging with their community; and 3.) provide community collaborators with a more diverse pool of faculty and students expertise.

Outcomes and Significance

Monmouth recently implemented substantive revisions to its Core Curriculum. The last of five Core Curriculum Learning Goals states: Students will understand how to engage with problems and issues in their relevant contexts and connect, extend, and communicate their knowledge during community engagement experiences. Community-engaged learning is thus a requirement of all Monmouth graduates. Knox College also implemented substantive revisions to its Core Curriculum. One of the graduation requirements is Civic Engagement: Students are encouraged during their time as students at Knox to be active in Civic Engagement. There are opportunities to do this in coursework, through projects organized as part of the co-curricular program at Knox, and by participation in projects focused on needs within the Galesburg Community. These curricular revisions necessitate that both colleges offer a diverse suite of courses from which students can engage meaningfully with one or more of the several levels of community, ranging from their immediate college-community, to the cities of Monmouth and Galesburg, to the disciplinary communities in their areas of study, upward to the state, national and global scales. Moreover, we increasingly recognize the value of CBP in building fundamental competence in core concepts and skills of our many academic disciplines.

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