Academic Community Engagement Week looks to increase community service participation
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 00:10
Our University motto, “The measure of a life is its service”, is not only esteemed and supported, but echoed into action through the community service-based Academic Community Engagement week, which began Monday.
During ACE week, Sam Houston State professors interested in building community engagement into their courses are encouraged by the Engaged Scholars Committee to set up individual work sessions with their colleges.
Academic Community Engagement (ACE) is a teaching technique that combines community engagement with academic instruction. The ACE initiative allows students to use the skill-set and knowledge acquired in the classroom to make a transforming impression in the community.
“We are trying to encourage more professors to incorporate community engagement in their coursework if the class lends itself to this pedagogy”, Director of ACE, Joyce McCauley, Ph.D. said.
“In other words, we’re trying to bring the walls of the classroom down so that what is learned in the course, the skills and knowledge, is applied in a real-world setting, thus helping to improve the quality of life in the community. “
In 2011, SHSU was recognized as a Carnegie Community Engaged campus – a designation shared with only a handful of institutions of higher education in the country. In order to help faculty members succeed in implementing ACE initiatives, the Engaged Scholars Committee was created to support faculty in their efforts to connect learning objectives and community participation.
“Courses that have this community engagement component are given the designation “ACE” on the class schedule,” Dr. McCauley said. “Presently there are over 80 SHSU professors who have taught ACE courses and have formed collaborative partnerships with non-profits and other organizations.”
Campus-wide engagement at SHSU has resulted in the creation of several programs including the American Democracy Project, the SHSU Center for Leadership and Service, and membership in Campus Compact, a national organization for civic engagement.
Last year, President Dana Gibson established a fourth University Excellence Award: The David Payne Excellence in Academic Community Engagement. Gibson has a history of being extremely supportive of the initiative.
“We are proud that… through our mission of education, research, service, and community engagement, SHSU makes a positive impact in the region,” Gibson said.
The ACE movement continues to be crucial to the mission of SHSU and denotes that our students are working to make a difference in communities at the local, regional, national, and international level.
“This semester alone, the students enrolled in ACE classes will be contributing approximately 26,000 hours of service in the community,” Dr. McCauley said. “We hope, through these ACE courses, that our SHSU students see themselves as positive forces in the world and embrace the university motto.”