Engagement in the time of COVID-19

July 1, 2020

Curators: Kelvin Alfaro, Director, Wisconsin; J.R. Jamison, Director, Indiana; Emily Shields, Director, Iowa and Minnesota

 Introduction

COVID-19 poses a unique challenge to community-based teaching and learning. Institutions are pivoting place-based engagement work to new online formats and working to sustain established community partnerships. These challenges also provide an opportunity for reimagining approaches for community engagement and how we foster a sense of togetherness and social connection that’s at the core of community-based learning opportunities.

Resources for teaching and learning

Campus Compact’s Summer Fusion Course aims to provide critical training and support for faculty as they adapt to online teaching and offers instruction for how to integrate community engagement methodologies into existing curricula to improve the quality of course delivery and foster student engagement. Learn more and register at events.compact.org/fusion-2020.

Thinking ahead
This spreadsheet, curated by Daniel Stanford, Director of Faculty Development & Technology Innovation at DePaul University, offers great resources for online teaching as faculty consider how to continue to meet educational goals in a different context for ALL students—hundreds of examples from institutions across the country. 

Community-Engaged Teaching Links:

Centering racial justice

Create assignments for students to learn and get involved wherever they are:

  • Watch a City Council, School Board, or County Commission meeting
  • Conduct a phone interview with the local Democratic or Republican Party county chairperson
  • Attend a VIRTUAL campaign event (fundraiser, rally, town hall meeting, etc.)
  • Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper about an issue of concern to them
  • Listen to a Supreme Court oral argument online
  • Follow a proposed Rule change
  • Learn more about how to register to vote and cast a ballot in their state, potential barriers to voting: https://www.vote.org/covid-19/

Resources for keeping students engaged

Leverage volunteer opportunity hubs:

  • AllForGood.org – Points of Light’s digital hub for volunteerism and community engagement pulls data from many sources to provide the most comprehensive database of volunteer opportunities in the world.
  • Catchafire – Skills-Based Volunteer Matching – a community of individuals seeking to support and strengthen the social good sector. Matches professionals who want to donate their time and talent with nonprofits who need those skills.
  • Dosomething.org: 9 places to volunteer online and make a real impact.
  • Hire Heroes USA – Service opportunities to support veterans and their families.
  • Idealist – includes a collection of virtual volunteering resources
  • Red Cross Volunteer Match: Role Finder – Case monitoring, translation, talent acquisition, coding, and digital tool testing are all things that the Red Cross is regularly looking for help with – search by keyword or role by typing “virtual” or “NHQ”
  • Taproot Foundation – Taproot nourishes social change organizations by connecting them with the expertise and insights of skilled volunteers, enabling both to thrive.
  • VolunteerMatch: Access VolunteerMatch to provide students with access to millions of remote and virtual opportunities; 60% of VolunteerMatch opportunities are virtual!

Identify local community-based opportunities for students to get involved where they are:

Construct virtual engagement opportunities based on specific content, issue, or skill areas:

Global engagement
GlobalSL blog: returns to its series on what it means to be in partnership when travel isn’t possible, coronavirus syllabi, online social action coursework, and more.

Resources for virtual international service and engagement

Centering Equity
It is likely that racial disparities that existed pre-COVID-19 will now be magnified as the virus disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minority groups. Centering equity in learning and in the evolution of campus-community partnerships is essential.

For students:

In partnerships:

  • This set of recommendations is drawn from a national virtual discussion of Compact members seeking to generate ideas and solutions for strong partnerships in the current context.
  • Relationships remain at the center. Check in regularly with partners on a personal level; ask specifically about needs, what kind of communication (and how often) is useful and welcome?
  • Adjust expectations. There will be real differences in capacity, shifts in where the focus of the work can be (i.e. partners may need to spend more time with clients and less on partnerships). Keep talking about ways to support one another in a changing environment.
  • Additional investment in capacity for virtual collaboration may be necessary (technology, training); be mindful about these transitions and attentive to the realities of the digital divide.
  • Assess current projects; what adjustments need to be made to plans and timelines to relieve stress and provide room for making changes as necessary.
  • Consider the equity impacts of changes in the partnership; who will be burdened? Who will be advantaged?
  • Leverage resources to support partners; create access to research and information that can contribute to community health and safety; amplify partner requests for support; specifically, consider how the institution might:
    • provide for communities who lack basic supplies
    • ensure COVID-19 testing and clinical care is equitable and resource allocation is fair
    • meet the needs of the housing-insecure, people experiencing homelessness, ‘essential workers’ who are unable to work remotely, and other populations who are at great risk for COVID-19 (including staff and students)
  • Advocate for institutional and government action that can address inequities and community needs arising from COVID-19 impact (especially at the local level).
  • Help partners navigate information; be available to make resource connections and answer questions, provide access to institutional resources and people (i.e. medical college staff Q&A webinars, etc.)
  • The Social Change Wheel 2.0 Toolkit (Iowa and Minnesota Campus Compact) has been updated to support critical thinking about how to sustain partnerships and expand community-engaged learning. The Social Change Wheel centers on anti-racism, equity, and co-creation.

 

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