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Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute 2019: Augsburg to Host and Call for Proposals

Place-based Justice Network logo

The Sabo Center is excited to announce that Augsburg University will be hosting the sixth annual Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute in July 2019. The three-day gathering is an essential learning and networking opportunity for the Place-Based Justice Network, a group of twenty member institutions that are committed to transforming higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement with a racial justice lens.

Place-based community engagement is a focused approach to university community engagement that emphasizes long-term, university-wide engagement in community partnerships in a clearly defined geographic area, and focuses equally on-campus and community impact. Engaging with stakeholders from across the university and neighborhood community, a place-based approach aims to enact real and meaningful social change through partnership and co-creative work.

The Summer Institute will consist of plenary lectures and workshops, keynote speakers, site visits to organizations connected to Augsburg, and opportunities to learn from practitioners of place-based community engagement from across the country.

The PBJN has released a call for proposals for workshops and breakout sessions during the Summer Institute. They seek proposals for sessions that center dialogue and interactivity on topics related to place-based community engagement initiatives and their planning, development, programs, evaluation, and impact. Potential topics for breakout sessions include, but are not limited to:

Scholar-activism and community-based research: examples and lessons learned

  • Relationship-building and decentralized decision making
  • Sustaining long-term commitments with neighborhoods and communities
  • Critical scholarship on community engagement including racial justice, economic justice, education justice, disability justice, queer, and feminist theory and practices
  • Lessons from community organizing
  • Asset-based community development
  • Power analysis and community voice
  • Anti-racist storytelling strategies
  • Preparing students to enter and transition out of place-based community engagement

Breakout session proposals are due Monday, May 13th, 2019 at 5 pm PST.

Interested in participating? Contact the Sabo Center for more information about how to attend the Summer Institute and submit a proposal for a breakout session (sabocenter@augsburg.edu)

What does community-based learning look like?

Community-based learning is a form of experiential learning directly connects students with the broader community and neighborhoods of which Augsburg is a part. Individual students and whole classes connect to community organizations through various means, including field trips, guest speakers, research, service learning, and public impact projects. These deliberately chosen experiences are guided by principles of mutual benefit for students and the community, are designed collaboratively with campus and community partners, and are based in deep and ongoing relationships with individuals and community groups. All community-based learning requires students to engage in meaningful reflection on their experiences.

 

Field Trips

A professor may plan a field trip for her course to a local organization or site so that students can experience first hand a context that might be referenced in class. Such a trip may offer opportunities to host discussions with local experts, understand an applied context, and to stimulate questions that may not otherwise occur to students in the classroom setting.

Examples

Religion classes tour houses of worship of different faith traditions, with tours conducted by practitioners of those traditions, some of which are in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood nearby to campus. These visits are followed by in-class discussion and a comparative reflection paper that prompts students to reflect on the visit as well the connection between visit themes and their own experience.

Students from a food science class visit a nearby beekeeping company who keep urban hives to learn about the science of honey production and about the economy of urban farming.

Guest Speakers

Guests from the local community may visit a relevant class session to share their experience and insight and engage in discussion with students.

Example

An organizer from a local labor rights organization visits a history class focused on 20th-century American labor rights movements.

Research

Research that is conducted as a partnership between traditionally trained “experts” and members of the community for the benefit of both.

Example

A group of students in a business course collaborate closely with a local youth social enterprise to do market research and develop a marketing plan. While the social enterprise ends up with a functional marketing plan that they can now implement, the students have learned applied skills for research and developing an end-product for a customer’s use while building connections with a community-based organization with connections to Augsburg and significant local impact.

Service Learning

Sometimes used interchangeably with community-based learning, service learning is a specific kind of learning activity in which students participate in and reflect on a service-oriented activity in the community. This may be a one-time “service project” experience, but more commonly involves ongoing involvement by the student in a community organization over the course of a semester (usually at least 20 hours). The activity is directly related to course content, and benefits the community.

Example

As part of the class, a student in an Social Work 100 class signs up to regularly serve meals to the after school program at Brian Coyle Community Center with the Campus Kitchen program.

Public Impact Project

Public impact projects are sustained experiences that integrate meaningful public engagement that is mutually beneficial to students and the community. Instruction and reflection in a community context enriches course content, teaches civic responsibility, builds community capacity and relationships, and often connects to university-wide community engagement initiatives.

Example

Students from Design+Agency, Augsburg’s embedded design studio, create design solutions for a variety of local non-profits and civic projects.

Interfaith Scholars collaborate with community members to put together monthly interfaith gatherings in the Cedar Commons space.

Place-Based Community Engagement

 

Augsburg University has a long history of deeply-rooted and long-term work in Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and the surrounding community, an approach known today as place-based community engagement. In fact, part of the reason Augsburg moved to Minneapolis in 1872 from its first location in Marshall, Wisconsin, was so that seminary students could gain experience serving city congregations in Cedar-Riverside and across the city. This commitment to place-based engagement has been affirmed and sustained across our history, from Professor Joel Torstenson’s call in the 1960s for faculty to embrace the modern metropolis as both classroom and place for contribution to the public good, to our early leadership in the field of service-learning, and the mission of the Center for Global Education and Experience. Over the last thirty years, dedicated staff and faculty have established and maintained numerous partnerships with local neighborhood organizations and individuals, connecting students, faculty, and community members. These partnerships are grounded in trust built on long-term, reciprocal relationships, and support a variety of initiatives and projects. Augsburg has continued to uphold these efforts through funding staff positions focused on community engagement, and prioritizing experiential education as part of the university’s mission and strategic plan.

Examples of this place-based partnership work in Cedar-Riverside include:

Midnimo at the Cedar Cultural Center

Sisterhood Boutique

Campus Kitchen: Community Garden and Meals at Brian Coyle

Health Commons

Cedar Riverside Community School

Community-Based Learning

Place-based community engagement is defined as “a long-term university-wide commitment to partner with local residents, organizations, and other leaders to focus equally on campus ad community impact within a clearly defined geographic area.” [1] Engaging with stakeholders from across the university and neighborhood community, a place-based approach aims to enact real and meaningful social change through partnership and co-creative work.

In recent years, Augsburg has engaged with a cohort of higher education institutions from across the country who are similarly interested in deeply focused, long-term, and place-based community engagement work. Recently formed into a formal organizational network, the Place-Based Justice Network (PBJN) consists of twenty member institutions that participate in annual summer institutes, continuous learning opportunities, leaderships retreats, and other activities focused on place-based community engagement in higher education. 

As a network the PBJN aims to transform higher education and the communities surrounding them by actually working to deconstruct systems of oppression through a place-based community approach. The values of the network emphasize anti-oppression, anti-racism, intersectionality, self-determination, and deliberative process. This move toward an explicitly anti-oppression framework is an important and unique shift in the field of university community engagement, and one which we strive to incorporate deeply into our ongoing place-based work. 

[1] Erica K. Yamamura and Kent Koth, Place-Based Community Engagement in Higher Education: A Strategy to Transform Universities and Communities, (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2018), 19.