If you were at the last faculty meeting, or are a keen reader of Faculty Development Coordinator Lara Kartalian's emails, you know that the faculty development office, in conjunction with Title V, is supporting the college-wide theme of Civic Engagement for the 2017-2018 year.
The purpose of a campus theme is to develop "a common idea that the entire college, and the community that we serve, can gather around" (Clark College). A college theme allows us to highlight one of our institutional values every year, as we integrate it into our professional development, lecture series and other activities, and campus programming for students, in and outside the classroom. GCC’s theme of Civic Engagement is both timely, and is broad enough that our entire campus community can find ways to engage with it, through both straightforward as well as more creative interpretations.
In addition to offering Professional Development workshops around the theme of civic engagement, and encouraging other campus constituency groups to weave this theme into offerings when possible, we are also planning an Advocacy Fair, an opportunity for students to meet representatives from various local civic organizations to learn how to volunteer, or get involved, as well as a Get Your Voice Heard Campaign which will be campus-wide write/call/fax-ins to local representatives, and/or the use of art as expression around issues that are important to each of us.
Civic Engagement can also be a meaningful component of discipline instruction. For example, in Environmental Science, faculty from DeAnza College assigned students an in-class group assignment where they researched Dia de los Muertos history and altars, and then selected an extinct species and began to create an altar for the species which incorporated both cultural and discipline-based knowledge. With this new integration of discipline and cultural understanding, students showcased their creations on campus.
In other classes, instructors had students write up proposals for campus change, such as free bus passes, that were presented to the appropriate governance committees. This teaches students to exercise their voice and agency, and to advocate for themselves and their communities.
At Oklahoma City University, Inorganic Chemistry used the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, as the foundation for a research project they assigned their students, ranging from the aqueous chemistry of lead to the therapies for treating lead poisoning, which allowed them to weave civic issues into their understanding of chemistry.
In 2017-2018, Chaparral will spotlight at least one GCC program or employee who initiates or amplifies an incorporation of the theme of civic engagement into their work at GCC. The theme coordinators (Sandy Somo and Julie Gamberg) will be on the lookout for these projects; however, please feel free to write to the coordinators, or the editor of Chaparral with projects that you would like to see featured (including your own!).
If you would like to be involved with planning theme related events or activities this year, for students, staff, faculty, other employees, or all of the above, please feel free to be in touch with us, or with Faculty Development Coordinator Lara Kartalian.