Virtual Community Engagement?

There is much conversation now about the disruption that will result in many fields due to the Covid-19 virus. My hypothesis is that after being forced to learn how to offer an education online, some features of the college experience will remain in the virtual domain. What does this mean for community engagement efforts? At the risk of sounding old fashioned, the term engagement implies an in-person encounter to me. However, I noticed that two political science professors are already sharing their suggestions for online engagement:

4 thoughts on “Virtual Community Engagement?

  1. Thanks, Gene. I agree that I think we will be seeing more of this. Looking at this model, what stands out for me is the projects: “The “menu” of potential civics projects includes activities such as attending a city council/school board/county commission meeting, attending a homeowner’s association meeting, volunteering for a community agency, visiting a federal or state courthouse and watching a proceeding, volunteering for a political campaign, and contacting an elected official about an issue of interest.” What seems to be missing is the partner and partnership. ere is civic learning tat can take place through these projects, but learning though and about reciprocity does not seem possible. The article we read on “The Formation of Community Engaged Scholars” discusses the “values, epistemological orientations, and relational skills” learned through community engagement with community partners. It seems that the question is, how can these be learned on-line?


  2. This article was really interesting. The best thing I got from it was actually by going to her related article and pulling the template for the Civic Project Worksheet. I thought some of it was a nice format for students to use to organize the information about local civic entities and how they could connect with them. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Super interesting Gene! I loved how thorough the faculty were, and their focus on measuring (or at least raising) civic learning outcomes. Following up on John’s question: It would be interesting to look at how various universities are continuing engagement/support/collaboration with their existing partnerships/collaborations throughout (or particularly in light of) the virus? In Miami I’m working with Barry university and their School of Nursing’s ongoing collaboration with Caritas Port-de-Paix (Haiti), to provide needed training and materials in light of the virus’s recent introduction to NW Haiti. They have done similar work in the past around cholera-relief. It’s being organized so quickly, I don’t think it will end up involving student/courses or research at this point, but likely will (as their courses/partnership has in the past). I’m guessing other universities are doing similar work with their current partners – whether or not they are thinking of it in terms of engaged scholarship…

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  4. The bi-weekly newsletter of Bringing Theory to Practice ( also has a nice compilation of resources relating to the shift to teaching and caring for students online — I’ve copied a couple that focus on community engagement below:

    Our good friend Tessa Hicks Peterson of Pitzer College (a key partner in our PLACE Collaboratory) has created this wonderful guide to “Remote Community Engagement Activities” (distilled from her book Student Development and Social Justice).

    Our friends at Campus Compact have curated this valuable splash page on campus-community engagement, civic learning, and social change under conditions of COVID-19, with links to resources compiled by several of Compact’s regional affiliates.


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