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University of Dayton Hosts First Midwest Institute on Ethical Community-University Partnerships

By Kelly Trail and Kelly Bohrer

On May 14-16, 2019, around 50 people gathered at Emerson’s Helix Innovation Center for the inaugural Midwest Institute: Community/University Partnerships for Global Learning and Human Rights. About a quarter of attendees hailed from area colleges/universities, local community organizations, and other educational entities. The remaining participants included staff and faculty from across the various units of UD.  Participants represented many different experiences, responsibilities, disciplines, and perspectives on student learning and community partnership outcomes - some were just beginning their journey to incorporate community-based global learning, some were interested in deepening their work, and others sought connections and amplification to expand critical reflection and ethical practices.  


The institute was co-organized with experts in the field of community-based global learning - Eric Hartman and Nora Reynolds, both a part of globalsl.org, a multi-institutional hub supporting ethical global learning and community campus partnerships.  University of Dayton centers on campus which initiated, co-developed, and co-implemented the institute with Eric and Nora include the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, the Human Rights Center, the ETHOS Center, the Center for Social Concern, and the Center for International Programs. This cross-campus collaboration and shared vision in exploring ethical partnerships and best practices for community engaged learning made this institute especially unique.  It also created the ability to reflect the values essential to these ethical partnerships and practices and to the Marianist tradition of UD: trusting relationships, discipleship of equals, inclusivity, collaboration, and shared understanding.


This institute was designed to provide a thought and dialogue provoking space for examining our practices of community/university partnerships, aligning our partnership practice ethics with student learning and community outcomes, intersecting our missions with our work, and generating ideas and steps towards implementation.  With experts in the field, community partners actively participating, and a multitude of experience and perspectives from faculty and staff participants, the collective formed provided new connections, insights, and ideas for integrating human rights, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and community-based global learning for institutions of higher education.  


The program included

The three days ended with each participant sharing an action plan for enhancing current curriculum, developing new curriculum, and/or designing new program components to realize ethical community/university partnerships.  Many of the action plans focused on improving student learning outcomes and assessing the impact of programs on the community partners. Others expressed the desire to institutionalize practices and build initiatives that directly supported the mission of the institution, organization, department, or center.  


Evaluations of the institute from participants were overwhelmingly positive and provided valuable feedback. We are looking forward to continued discussions around the work of ethical community engagement for global learning and human rights.


Kelly Bohrer, Director of Community Relations, ETHOS Center, School of Engineering

Kelly Trail, Associate Director of Education Abroad, Center for International Programs

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