Thursday, January 14, 2010

Minnesota Campus Compact

Photo by Dom Gullichon
Flickr Creative Commons
You'll note that I have uploaded the blog from our friends at the Minnesota Campus Compact.  You'll be able to find it in the "Civic Engagement Blogs" on the right gutter of our blog.

Feel free to add your own blogs of interest (click "new post," then click the "layout" tab), or you can always send the URL and name of the blog to me, and I'll upload it.

Will Richardson's Blog

Here's a link to a recent posting on Webblog-ed, Will Richardson's blog devoted to education and technology.  Within this particular posting are a number of great links, including one to a recent must-read column by David Brooks of the New York Times.  Richardson's posting contains his musings on the role of Web 2.0 to solve (or contribute to) the problems of our times.  It's good reading.

You'll notice, too, that I have added Webblog-ed to our list of linked blogs.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Engagement and/or Empowerment?

Masthead from David Warwick's blog, 2cents Worth

I follow David Warwick's blog, and I was interested in a recent blog post so much that I thought I'd share it with you.  Warwick examines the different connotations and denotations of the words engagement and empowerment.  It's a good read.  What Warwick doesn't address is the politics around the word empowerment.  I often hear people say that they want "to empower youth"  (or students, or  . . . pick your object term).  This seems to imply that one person (typically a person in power) possesses power and can then empower someone else.  It strikes me as teacher-centric language.  Chaka Mkali, a very effective community organizer at Hope Community, uses the phrase power development, which I think gets to the heart of the matter more succinctly and accurately.  I've tried to use Chaka's language in classes and meetings.   I'd love to know your thoughts.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Speaking of Social Media and Isolation (or Connection)

Photo by rikrak
Flickr Creative Commons

After we spoke about social media, it was fortuitous that the StarTribune published "Circle of Friends," which is a brief summary and commentary on new Pew Internet and American Life Project findings regarding techology and how people are using it.  Both the article and the findings are worth a few minutes of your time.  The Pew web site, if you are interested in this topic, is really a great resource.

I do not want to be misconstrued as someone who believes wholesale in the possiblities of technology to solve all the ills (including social) of the world.  However, I am really interested in how technology shapes the way that our students experience the world and - more fundamentally - how those experiences shape the way that they learn.  It's a Brave New World, folks.

CCE Winter Retreat

Center for Civic Engagement Retreat
5 January 2010

It was good to see everyone at Diane's palatial estate: Cathy, Michael D., Lena, Jennifer B-K., Diane, and Greg.

We spent the morning session participating in "The World As It Is, The World As It Should Be" training. It was great conversation, and in recap, we identified certain elements in the world as it is that the Center needs to recognize and address.
Photo by JVConti
Flickr Creative Commons

pressure on accountability/measurable outcomes
new possibilities
partisan/ideological division
tough economic times
young people are engaged, but they are tired of the "old ways"
Hope <---> Impatience

Campus Climate
Us v. Them
Negative vibe (mistrust, budget cuts)
Measurable outcomes = the bottom line
Holes left from JR-T's departure
Assumptions and Possibilities

Seeking/Finding balance
Nurturing relationships
Creating structures (rather than personalities) that sustain the work

Other Issues
"Good organizing is reorganizing."
Partnerships and grants
While the personnel within the CCE has morphed over time, our numbers have not grown significantly.

I'd love to hear what happened in the afternoon session.


Purpose of the CCE
Foster internal relationships
Develop external partnerships
Train faculty/staff/students
Connect students with community-based learning/research/action opportunities

What have we done (fall semester)?
Community Conversation on homelessness, housing and hunger
Development of Master Academic Plan goals 7-10
Convened bi-weekly CCE meetings
Strengthened our relationship with CLPC

What should we focus on for Spring 2010?
Continue work with Social Responsibility Caucus to define Civic Engagement in the context of MCTC
Develop activities and outcomes for MAP goals 7-10
1 to 1 campaign with administrators and others
Visits to department and division meetings
Establish web presence and enhance communications
Explore partnership opportunities with the CTL
Community Events: sustainability fair, CCE block party, HPHP & WAY, Public Agenda Collaboration events (1/21/10 3:30-5:30 and 1/22/10 2:00-4:00)

Next Year
Continue to define Civic Engagement at MCTC
Build CCE identity
Participate in organizer training
Offer leadership and organizer training for students
Participate in conflict resolution skills training
Regain institutional support for faculty role in CCE
Organize/host/facilitate public fairs and events

3-5 Years
Accountability and assessment activities
Increase number of participants in CCE and corresponding support for involvement
Establish steady funding stream/institutional support
Establish a physical space/home for the CCE
Provide a range of community organizing services both internally and externally
Provide conflict resolution services internally and externally