Community engagement is an integral part of our mission, vision, and values; it is not a function of one person, division, or program at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). Community Engagement is an educational strategy intent on giving students the opportunity to enrich their classroom learning while assisting real people and addressing real problems. It is also a deliberate attempt on behalf of the College to advance the common purposes of our community partners and demonstrate the value of our students.
In 2013 and 2014, SLCC participated in the process to become a designated ‘engaged college’ through the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. We were recognized for our commitment when awarded the Carnegie Classification in 2015. But the Classification was more than acknowledgment of the work we had done, it was also a recognition of the work we are committed to going forward. Carnegie prompted and continues to inspire inclusive and comprehensive discussions and concrete policy changes that affect how we teach and learn within the SLCC community and how we work collaboratively with our partners.
In 2016, President Huftalin joined the presidents of over 450 college presidents across the country to sign Campus Compact’s 30th Anniversary Action Statement of Presidents and Chancellors. The statement affirms SLCC’s core values of collaboration, community, inclusivity, learning, innovation, integrity, and trust. As part of the Action Statement, SLCC committed to developing a Civic Action Plan that identifies steps to deepen our engagement for the benefit of students, communities, and the broader public.
The SLCC Civic Action Plan builds on the work done by the College in 2013-2015. The plan is designed to track engagement to the college’s strategic plan and strengthen and deepen engagement throughout the college. An important part of the Civic Action Plan strategy focuses on equity in student participation, pathway development, and increasing student completion rates. We believe the plan is ambitious and future-oriented but that it is also rooted in the College’s long-standing commitment to engagement.
The plan identifies five strategies.
1. Structure SLCC’s curricular, professional development, and faculty rank/tenure processes to encourage all High Impact Practices (HIPs) including community based learning, which includes service-learning. This strategy includes:
- Revise the curricular review process so that it encourages the development of courses that regularly use HIPs.
- Target Faculty Development Office efforts on HIPs.
- Use Digication for faculty rank and tenure portfolios, and use a custom module in the template to gather faculty work on HIPs as well as representative student artifacts that showcase the excellent work they do when engaged in high-impact pedagogies.
2. Implement a new civic and community engagement student learning outcome (SLO) that is better suited to assessment, and further develop our assessment plans. The new learning outcome passed the faculty governed bodies and was endorsed by the President’s Cabinet. It reads as follows: Students develop civic literacy and the capacity to be community-engaged learners who act in mutually beneficial ways with community partners. This includes producing learning artifacts indicating understanding of the political, historical, economic or sociological aspects of social change and continuity; thinking critically about—and weighing the evidence surrounding—issues important to local, national, or global communities; participating in a broad range of community-engagement and/or service-learning courses for community building and an enhanced academic experience. Our next steps include:
- Support faculty in the implementation of the outcome by providing a rubric and examples of ePortfolio artifacts.
- Use this learning outcome in all program and institutional assessments.
3. Make civic learning routine across the disciplines. This strategy includes:
- Encourage academic departments to use the AAC&U’s Civic Prompts publication to develop a disciplinary civic lens that orients teaching and learning and includes learning about diversity and equity.
- Support the creation of professional development opportunities and programs focused on civic learning and civic prompts at college-wide events and at the department and program level. This also includes the creation of Engaged Departments.
- Create and use existing rubrics that outline levels of community engaged learning (ranging from general community engagement to service-learning).
4. Explore the impact of SLCC’s Community Engagement efforts on communities. This strategy includes:
- Assess impacts of engagement initiatives on community partner organizations. Methods for determining community impact might differ depending on program or initiative ranging from focus groups with community partners to longitudinal measurement of defined metrics. Collective impact modeling might help identify what part we play in helping to address community issues.
- Embrace place-based initiatives and awareness of campus impact on neighbors.
5. Take specific steps to make reciprocal community engagement a cultural norm for SLCC’s staff, faculty, and administrators. This strategy includes:
- Conduct college-sponsored, regularly scheduled days of service. This would provide an opportunity for staff to utilize their community engagement leave time.
- Implement a system to track where employees are spending their time for marketing and promotion purposes.
- Develop marketing materials that promote and advertise SLCC’s engagement with the community.
- Recognize and celebrate department and school community-based initiatives already in effect, and encourage the strategic development of additional growth when feasible.