By: Lauren Collins, Office of Internationalization
Participating in the CCESL Engaging Onward Community of Practice was a fantastic way to restart a return to in-person teaching and learning this year. As a higher education doctoral student at the Morgridge College of Education in 2017-2019 I spent two years as a CCESL Fellow learning what community engagement is and working directly on community engagement projects with the City of Denver and Sun Valley Ecodistrict. This was a transformative experience. Since that time community-engagement has become a central piece of my pedagogical practice but I still feel like I'm always learning and trying to do it better. Mainly I want students to see themselves as participants in the world, not just spectators or analysts, and community-engaged courses amplify my ability to successfully achieve this but I continue to struggle with questions of how to ensure that this also impacts the community in a reciprocal and co-created way.
At DU, I teach as an adjunct instructor in the Office of Internationalization. As someone who is only on campus once a week for a few hours, participating in this cohort helped me not only brainstorm and develop ideas for including community-engaged content in my courses, it also provided a much needed community of fellow scholars and educators who care deeply about the public purpose of education and utilize courses that they are teaching to do community engaged work and research.
The design of the program being one of co-creation was also highly valuable and I learned so much from my colleagues about their own experiences and reflections through the sessions that they developed and shared. Community-engaged teaching can take so many different forms and is generally not something that is emphasized in most academic disciplines. Getting to learn from colleagues from disparate departments and fields was enlightening and affirming. I highly recommend this program to other faculty looking to connect with colleagues across campus in a low stake but highly stimulating format.