We have developed a semester-long workshop to engage more faculty in Community Based Learning (CBL) pedagogies in order to produce an even more sustainable CBL program with a broader curriculum. Our aim is to use the workshop to bring together faculty new to CBL, students who work in CBL (current Community Mentors), and current CBL faculty and staff with the end result of new, linked CBL courses and a commitment on the part of workshop attendees to teach them regularly. Courses created in the workshop will be linked through their collective use of a new Community Engagement website “Engaging the North Country,” to be constructed in partnership with the Digital Initiatives group concurrent with the workshop as well as through other means described below. We have worked extensively with Eric Williams-Bergen, director of the Digitial Initiatives group, who has committed to the timeline of creating the website in the fall semester.
Enhancing CBL’s digital presence through the creation of “Engaging the North Country” offers a means by which to integrate courses from a variety of disciplines by focusing on the common project of engaging with the broader community. Students and faculty associated with these CBL courses will have the option to use journals, blogs, photo essays, video, and more to contribute to this interactive site. We imagine that students would create their own digital portfolio of CBL reflection and then share some of the materials from that portfolio on the “Engaging the North Country” site. As such, the site will also be a place for ongoing reflection on CBL.
In addition to being a dynamic site of engaged learning, we envision “Engaging the North Country” as a resource for students, faculty, and other members of the community interested in the North Country community itself and in Community Based Learning. In relation to this grant, we plan to use the site as a digital repository for faculty development materials generated through the workshop and beyond, including readings, guides for syllabus development, information on cultivating and working with community partners, and sample syllabi and assignments. In addition, we expect to create a discussion board for faculty engaged in CBL pedagogies and a more private space for faculty in need of help to seek support. Also, we see it as offering a discovery platform for students, faculty, and staff interested in learning more about it.