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Nine Virginia Universities Represented at Service-Learning Workshop

2019 Service-Learning Workshop“Being able to articulate how my service-learning course affects not just students but community partners;” “Strategies for establishing mutually beneficial partnerships;” “Involving community partners in the feedback and planning of my course;” and “Stop making assumptions about what community partners want/need.”

These were just some of the key take-aways participants had from the Service-Learning Workshop, “Engaging Community Partners as Co-Educators in Community-Based Learning and Service-Learning,” held Feb. 8 at the University of Richmond.

Offered by the VA Engage Network in coordination with the University of Richmond Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and the VCU Office of Service-Learning, the workshop was designed for instructors who teach community-engaged or service-learning courses. Thirty faculty and staff members from nine Virginia colleges/universities, including James Madison University, Longwood University, Old Dominion University, University of Mary Washington, University of Richmond, Washington & Lee University, University of Virginia, VCU and Virginia Tech attended.

"VCU has played a leadership role statewide in preparing faculty instructors to build partnerships for innovative community-engaged teaching," said Lynn Pelco, Ph.D., VCU associate vice provost for Community Engagement. "Through its leadership role in the VA Engage Network, VCU has partnered for the past five years with the University of Richmond to offer this free annual half-day faculty development workshop."

The workshop was facilitated by Melody Porter, director of the Office of Community Engagement at William & Mary, and Mike Rackett, assistant professor in VCU ASPiRE. The interactive half-day workshop focused on involving community partners and members as co-educators in community-based learning. Topics included best practices for developing productive partnerships; the variety of roles partners can play in educating students; strategies for troubleshooting potential challenges; and understanding possible benefits for all involved. Based in a critical service-learning framework, the workshop explored ways that partners can expand understanding of teaching, learning and social change beyond traditional practice.

"Professional development workshops like these give faculty members a chance to come together to share ideas and best practices, to discuss their experiences and deepen their knowledge about innovative, community-engaged teaching and how they are building community-university partnerships at their institutions," said Katie Elliott, associate director, VCU Service-Learning Office. "It's also an opportunity for some amazing folks from around the state just to get in a room together and talk, which is important in and of itself."

Each year, the VCU Service-Learning Workshop provides service-learning instructors with the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skill in teaching high-quality service-learning courses.

For more information, visit Service-Learning Workshops.