Reports from TRUCEN 2021-22 Sustained Conversation Groups

June 15, 2022

Nancy Thomas (Tufts University) leads a sustained conversation group discussion on “Strengthening Engagement in a Challenged Democracy”

The final session of this year’s TRUCEN annual meeting featured report outs from the Sustained Conversation groups that had been meeting regularly throughout the winter and spring quarters. 

Sustained Conversations provide an opportunity for TRUCEN members to virtually connect on a regular basis to “dive deeper” into key aspects of their civic and community engagement work, problem solve with others, and share experiences and resources to advance their programs and initiatives.

Below is a brief summary of activities each group undertook over the past year: 

Anti-racist Community Engaged Teaching and Learning 

Co-Conveners: Deborah Keisch (UMass Amherst) & Jesús Hernández (Brown)

This group of participants met virtually between November 2021 and April 2022 with the intention of “explor(ing) practices, pedagogies, and programming for anti-racist Community Engaged (CE) teaching and learning that counteract institutionalized and persistent racism on our campuses and in our community engagement.” Under the idea of “meeting to transgress,” the group committed to provide feedback on each other’s curricula and initiatives; share key resources; and imagine ways to collaborate across institutions. During a series of gatherings, participants exchanged tried-and-true readings, exercises, workshops, practices; mapped out organizational structures and policies within their own centers, departments, and/or programs around anti-racist community engagement; and discussed innovative and/or untested resources and strategies they were excited about or curious to try out further. The group is interested in extending their conversation into the new year, continuing to support each another, and broaden the conversation to include more people. You can find a link to the slide presentation of the group’s conference report back here

Supporting Equity-focused, Community-engaged Research 

Convener: Joseph Krupczynski (UMass Amherst)

This conversation group met throughout the winter and spring to think more deeply about relational practices in Community-Engaged Research, exploring power dynamics between universities and communities and considering how relational practices can be pursued to make engaged research more equitable, reciprocal, and transformative. While there was a research focus, there were synergies within the group that led to conversation about teaching CBR (curriculum and capstones) and cross-/trans-disciplinary, community-engaged research possibilities. During the group meetings, participants shared resources (including some about their own social justice community-engaged courses and capstones; engaged in conversations about work they were doing at their own institutions, and workshopped ideas in the shared space. The group is interested in continuing to work together in the future and incorporating new participants into the conversation. Some initial areas identified for future conversation include CBR through an anti-colonial lens and making connections between community-engaged research and broader JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) efforts. You can find a link to the group’s report back slide presentation here

Strengthening Engagement in a Challenged Democracy

Co-Conveners: Nancy Thomas (Tufts) & Renee Brown (Michigan State) 

This group continued work that it began last year, exploring what higher education’s role can be at this time in history as democracy faces serious threats from political polarization and extremism; undemocratic governance structures; and persistent racial injustice and social inequalities. The group is intending to continue its conversation and is looking for new participants (and potential new co-facilitators) to join the group! 

Interested in participating in a Sustained Conversation Group 2022-23? TRUCEN-affiliated practitioners are invited to sign up at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScrAFx9lwty3Z_ciYxcB_7YHutMyUMfYYUbMp5LlevQKUXSFQ/viewform.

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