Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning (CCESL)
DU’s Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL) champions university-community collaboration by supporting students, faculty, and staff to do high quality community-engaged work. Community-engaged work–whether teaching, research, creative work, or service–is characterized by mutual benefit to University and community members. Community-engaged work sometimes relies on in-person or community-based activities; however, adaptations to remote collaboration are possible and have been successful.
For example, A Community Table is a DU Grand Challenges (DUGC) program designed to foster rich civic dialogue among participants, build community capacity to solve public problems, and identify opportunities to partner with you to tackle grand challenges. In past years, the event has relied on in-person gatherings of small groups of people for these conversations. This Spring, however, a CCESL-led team re-imagined A Community Table to become an online platform through which hundreds of students, staff, faculty, and community members engaged in structured, meaningful, solution-oriented conversations about the issues that matter most to them.
To realize this adaptation, the CCESL-led team worked with partners across campus, such as DU DialogUes and Inclusion and Equity Education, to update program materials (sample invitations, conversation guides, facilitation training webinars, and more) for the new online environment. In addition to the traditional facilitation guide and conversation prompts for hosts, they also received information on the best web platforms for A Community Table, step-by-step instructions on how to use those platforms, and tips for facilitating online conversations specifically. The timeline for the program was extended from one week in spring quarter to run from March 30 through June 11, 2020. Three illustrations of the successful transition of conversations to the online environment are available here.
CCESL has also encouraged similar kinds of adaptations to community-engaged teaching, with information about best practices available here.