From the Director’s Desk-August, 2017

Greetings, Wisconsin Community Engagement Champions!

It’s membership renewal time! A special thanks to the following campuses for confirming their membership renewal in Wisconsin Campus Compact: Cardinal Stritch University, Edgewood College, Fox Valley Technical College, Gateway Technical College, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, and UW-Parkside! I hope many more of you will be part of this list.  If you have any questions about membership, please e-mail me (gavin {at} compact(.)org).

We’re fresh off our Civic Action Plan Implementation Retreat held late July in Madison.  Thirteen colleges and universities engaged in team-based discussions, learned about how to best frame their work on their campuses, and heard from national experts about how to move forward with implementation.  A special thanks to Nancy Thomas (Institute for Democracy & Higher Education), Caron Daugherty (Jefferson College), Katherine Swanson (Metropolitan Community College), and Julie Plaut (Minnesota Campus Compact) for making the trip to Wisconsin to help move discussions forward.  For campuses putting together an implementation strategy, I encourage your participation in the free (for WiCC members) Community of Practice, “Implementing your Civic Action Plan.”  See more HERE.

Earlier this week, I attended a discussion group where the topic was “The Truth.”  In such politically contentious times, this topic seems to be almost too hotly contested to be discussed in a group context.  In certain religious contexts, there is one “Absolute Truth” based on scripture.  In certain political contexts, “truth” is dictated by particular world views.  The idea of discussing “truth” honestly made my cringe!  One thing that arose out of those discussions is that “truth” is grounded in certain life contexts, and that so many different truths exist.  Another perspective that stuck is that, in order to get to a truth, it requires a reexamination of our “usual ways of being” that are more grounded in routine than they are in actual beliefs.  In other words, so many people operate on “auto pilot” instead of really thinking through what is actual truth.  That made me reflect on our work related to community engagement.  We owe it to society to have higher education be a place where all different forms of the truth can be lifted up, discussed, and worked out—even (and especially) when these “truths” conflict with each other.  And, as Nadinne Cruz reminded us at the WiCC Civic Engagement Institute, we also should be working on creating little experiments in making the world a better place.  Community engagement can examine different truths based on different assumptions and, based on deliberative practice, work to design a better world.

Enjoy reading the rest of the newsletter.  We have upcoming webinars, Community of Practice opportunities, grant programs, events, and much more! I hope to continue to make our coalition strong, and the only way we can do that is by working together.  Will you help me make this academic year great? I hope so! Enjoy the rest of the summer.