Public Reflection for Community Engagement
By: Kathleen Guerra, Spanish Language, Literary & Cultural Studies
Community engagement is just good practice. After all, isn’t that what our ultimate goal is here at the university? Think about how we can connect what we learn in the classroom with the greater good? As a language teacher, I often ask our students what motivates them to learn a language and what they want to be able to do with the language they are learning. They overwhelmingly respond that they want to be able to use the language, not just learn it, and engage with people in their communities beyond the requirements of a class, beyond their years at DU. If this isn’t the greatest motivation to integrate a community-engaged component into your curriculum, I don’t know what else there is!
For me, community engagement is a kind of mindset that motivates you to consciously connect your learning objectives with measurable outcomes in the classroom and in the community. This can be as simple as writing a letter or interviewing a community member about a topic related to the course, to co-creating content or receiving expert feedback on a project. As a participant in the CCESL faculty community of practice group this year, I reveled in the talent, creativity and dedication of our participants. I learned of the great diversity of projects, creative scholarship and engagement being done here at DU by so many amazing colleagues. It was truly inspiring and I felt so much more connected to our collective vision. Community engagement can look different according to the diverse goals of different courses and educators, but it inherently challenges students to consider what’s next, how they can apply their learning outside of the classroom, and that there is much more that connects them with their communities than they could possibly imagine! Indeed, community-engaged learning is the bridge, or the tether, that keeps us connected to the bigger picture, and CCESL offers the support and guidance that makes it all possible!