Written by Service-Learning Program Assistant Ruthanne Bandy
This year the Eastern Regional Campus Compact (ERCC) brought together campus executives, scholars, practitioners, students, and community partners to engage in the region’s biannual conference from March 25 – 27, in Providence, Rhode Island. The theme, “Education for Democracy: Innovating in Complex Times,” provided framing for keynote and panelist speakers and a variety of session topics and formats. The conference offered an opportunity for participants to showcase practices of community and civic engagement. The ERCC created a space for critical analysis of how the role of higher education needs to evolve so student and community needs are better met by scholarship and practice. Northeastern University was represented at the conference by Director of Service-Learning Becca Berkey, Assistant Director of Service-Learning Lisa Roe, Service-Learning Program Assistants Chelsea Lauder and Ruthanne Bandy, and Service-Learning Program Assistant & Co-op Elena Petillo.
During a pre-conference session on Monday morning, Dr. Berkey co-presented with Dr. Emily Rountree, Assistant Director for the Center for Service Learning at University of Kansas, on the topic of “Intersecting Educational Development and Community Engagement: Research-Informed Strategies.” The session built upon Berkey and Rountree’s recently released edited volume, Reconceptualizing Faculty Development in Service-Learning/Community Engagement. Session participants engaged in analysis of their own work and made progress toward identifying and developing strategies to support Service-Learning/Community Engagement faculty development on their campuses.
Monday evening, during the opening reception, Becca Berkey, Lisa Roe, and Chelsea Lauder participated in a poster session based on their work with the Service-Learning Program at Northeastern University. “Leveraging Technology to Enhance Program Management & Growth” offered a case study on how the S-L Program integrates technology into programmatic communication to streamline processes and increase the scope and scale of the program. The poster provided an overview of the implementation of online student leader training, resource websites for community partners, student leaders, and faculty members, and the optimization of social media. They also highlighted the creation of a digital platform, the Virtual EXPO, that permanently hosts artifacts to showcase S-L course collaborations from each semester.
While session topics and styles varied, a common theme was present throughout the entire conference; service-learning and community engagement work is constantly being challenged to respond, contribute, and lead change-making efforts in and around our campus communities. During the final hours of the conference, participants gathered one last time to reflect upon their experiences through facilitated round table discussions. Questions were posed such as “What one word captures an asset or opportunity you see in your own context?” and “What is one question that remains to be answered?” After thoughtful discussion, responses to various questions were collected and displayed using a tool called Mentimeter. Below you can see a word cloud of responses based on the prompt, “Summarize in one word something you’ll do back home because of how you’re thinking about this event’s theme.”