Tuesday November 21, 2017

Campus Initiative Focuses on Refugee and Immigration Issues in the Dayton Community

Last month, a cohort of University of Dayton (UD) staff and faculty attended the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) conference in New Orleans, Louisiana to discuss best practices in community engaged learning and scholarship, with particular emphasis on engaging with local communities on global issues. The group that attended the conference is in the formative stages of  a partnership that will deepen community partnerships and faculty work for developing courses, modules, scholarship, etc. based on topics related to the conference, specifically social justice, social responsibility, and immigration and refugee issues in our local Dayton community.

The partnership members are:

Kelly Bohrer, The Fitz Center for Leadership in Community
Dr. Tony Talbott,  Interim Director, Human Rights Center
Erin Gahimer, Center for International Programs
Dr. Sayeh Meisami (Co-Facilitator), Department of Philosophy
Dr. Miranda Hallett (Co-Facilitator), Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work
Dr. Theo Majka (Co-Facilitator), Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

The AAC&U conference provided a collaborative platform for individuals, both inside and outside of higher education, to deepen conversations about ways that they can engage faculty, staff and community members, as well as students, in global learning experiences. Erin Gahimer, Programs Coordinator for the Office of Education Abroad at the Center for International Programs, describes the conference as a cross-professional experience; an interconnectivity of citizenship, global learning, education abroad, service, and so on.

“We explored how to support faculty members to integrate globalized local partnerships into their curricula and research, and to provide them with tools to engage students in addressing problems that have global concern,” shares Kelly Bohrer, Director of Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship at the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, regarding some of the insights that the partnership cohort intends to incorporate into the partnership goals.

The partnership was set in motion when Kelly Bohrer applied for the Global Learning Grant through the University of Dayton’s College of Arts and Science. She suggested that students do not necessarily have to travel internationally to gain global learning skills and values including collaborating with diverse people to analyze and address complex problems, working from transdisciplinary perspectives, better understanding human dignity, positionality, and social responsibility in global contexts. The Fitz Center already connects faculty with community partners so this grant prompted them to connect with faculty and centers across campus who support similar global concern related initiatives. After engaging with those faculty and centers, the pieces connected and those individuals attended the AAC&U conference to explore opportunities, ideas and methods for the partnership.

The primary goal of the partnership is to organize a ‘Faculty Learning Community’ (FLC). The FLC will consist of a group of faculty who will meet to learn more about refugee and immigration issues and community organizations in Dayton, work with community partners to build on assets in Dayton for inclusive excellence, create modules reflecting social justice, migration, and refugee issues, to incorporate into their courses, research, etc. “My role in this partnership is to insert the modules from the FLC into the pre-departure, on-site, and re-entry mini-courses that we require students to take, as part of their summer Faculty-Led Program (FLP) abroad, through the Office of Education Abroad”, Erin Gahimer shares.

The FLC is still in the beginning stages. The pilot group will be meeting in the spring of 2018 and will be integrating the resulting teaching, learning, and research strategies in the 2018-2019 academic year.

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