From December 16 through December 19, 2013, the Talloires Network and Kettering Foundation co‐hosted a workshop in Boston, Massachusetts, entitled “Regional Perspectives on University Civic Engagement.” Our director of Programs and Research, Lorlene Hoyt, and Derek Barker, a program officer at the Kettering Foundation, organized the workshop. Fourteen participants from seven countries in seven different regions around the world took part in the workshop. They hailed from Australia, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States. These seven pairs represent exemplary university civic engagement programs in their region. To explore university civic engagement from various local perspectives, each pair included a university faculty or staff member and a student or community partner.
Throughout the three and a half day workshop, discussion topics included: universities and their civic mission, focus on students & citizenship, engaging students beyond service learning, engaging students in practice, focus on communities & civic capacities, and civic capacity in practice. A copy of the agenda for the workshop can be accessed here [PDF].
On Wednesday, December 18, the workshop participants attended an award dinner with Talloires Network partners from the Boston region. As part of the dinner, TN Executive Director, Robert Hollister, made a special presentation of the 2013 MacJannet First Place Prize to Dr. James Koh and Pam Zulfikar from the International Medical University in Malaysia.
University: University of Glasgow (Scotland)
Activate is the University of Glasgow’s Community Development outreach program aimed at local community activists and volunteers. This program has offered more than 850 local people the opportunity to engage and explore a number of key Community Development concepts and relate these to their own lived experience. Its main aim is to give local people who are active in their communities an opportunity to reflect on what they do, why they do it, in order for them to be more effective in getting their voices heard for the groups and communities they live and work in.
We work in partnership with local community organizations and agencies who request courses to be run in response to their community capacity building agenda. Activate contributes to the sustainability of organizations, networks and initiatives and leads to increased community participation by building on the existing skills and knowledge of local activists and volunteers. It uses these skills and knowledge as a starting point for exploring topics such as community, discrimination, local and global issues, working with groups and undertaking small community research projects.
In more recent times a number of housing associations have bought in the course, which they see as an excellent opportunity to bring together their active members as a means of building capacity for the organization, but just as importantly, as a means to build relationships and connections between its member groups.
As a direct result of their experience and involvement in the Activate program, local people have gained the confidence to put into practice what they have learned in a variety of ways: Most have gone on to increase their volunteering activity; 45% of people going through Activate have gone on to Further or Higher Education; feedback has confirmed that community groups have been more able to express their energy and enthusiasm on specific issues and are better equipped to take a strategic approach to dealing with problems and search for solutions.
Helen Martin has a strong background in community activism after spending many years campaigning in her local community. She returned to education as a mature student and gained her BA in Community Development and subsequent qualifications at the University of Glasgow. She has held the post of Service Manager for a 3rd sector Community Development organization and Development Officer for a national anti-‐poverty agency. She currently teaches on the Community Development at the University of Glasgow. In addition to this, she is the Program Coordinator for Activate, which is the University’s community-‐based introduction to Community Development practice for activists and volunteers. She is currently a panel member of the Standards Council for Scotland for Community Learning and Development as well as The Active Learning Centre, Glasgow. Her recent publications include: Jordan, L., Martin, H. and Phillips, K. (2013) Making Banners and Bridges: Working Together on Global Themes – COMPARE -‐ a journal of international and comparative. Sheridan, L. and Martin, H. In Jones, P, Storan, J, Hudson, A & Braham, J. (eds) (2012) Lifelong Learning and Community Development, Face publications, London UK.
Margaret has a strong work background in both the housing and voluntary sector having worked across both for the past 25 years. She is currently Regeneration Manager of ng homes, the largest ‘community based’ housing association in Glasgow. The association, which operates within an area of multiple disadvantage, has impacted greatly on physical, economic and social regeneration of North Glasgow through a number of high quality interventions. Margaret’s main role is within ‘social regeneration’ where she works within an asset based community development model to bring the skills, life experiences and knowledge of the local community and partners to create a more resilient community. She is a graduate of Glasgow University having undertaken a Postgraduate course in Housing Studies and a BA in Community Development. Over the past eight years she has been working in partnership with Glasgow University in the delivery of the ‘Activate Course’ which has been instrumental in the creation of community activists and leading to high numbers of people progressing to further and higher education in the field of community work. She is highly committed to social justice values, development of local people, and the support of social enterprise initiatives.
University: University of Venda (South Africa)
Region: Sub-‐Saharan Africa
In 2006, the Amplifying Community Voices (ACV) program was conceived and implementation was rolled out. The program rests on the need for creating grassroots community ‘ventilation’ platforms and incorporating the decisions of children, youth, women, men and community leaders into rural development programming. Also, it promotes self-‐driven rural development within grassroots communities. In the process, opportunities are created for both undergraduate and postgraduate students from various departments and centers of the university to acquire and sharpen skills for championing participatory rural development. The Institute for Rural Development at the University of Venda spearheads implementation of the award-‐winning ACV. In 2010, it was adopted as the flagship university program for show casing community-‐engaged scholarship.
A grant from the WK Kellogg Foundation Africa program made it possible to implement the ACV from May 2006-‐April 2011. Between January 2010 and December 2012, it mainly relied on financial support from the South African government’s Department of Science and Technology made available through the pilot Community-‐University Partnership Program, which the National Research Foundation managed.
Since inception of the ACV, Wards 1, 17, 29 and 37 of Makhado Municipality have been the core implementation sites. In 2009 and 2010, respectively, the Masia and Sinthumule Traditional Council areas, also in Makhado Municipality, were adopted as implementation sites in response to formal requests from the respective communities. Vhembe District Municipality adopted the ACV approach to community development in 2011 saw the program being partially expanded to Musina, Mutale and Thulamela Municipalities.
Joseph Francis is a rural development practitioner who holds a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Zimbabwe. He is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Rural Development (IRD), for which he is the Director. Francis’s competencies encompass both academic and participatory process facilitation. He has vast experience in smallholder dairy farming, research; postgraduate student supervision; field application of participatory development techniques; research coordination; monitoring and evaluation of development programmes; rural development; participatory community development planning; community empowerment; local government and open learning or distance education. Throughout his academic life, he has extensively worked with grassroots communities in various countries in Southern Africa (in particular Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe) as one of the champions of the WK Kellogg Foundation-‐funded Integrated Rural Development Programme. His exemplary leadership and acumen in community-‐engaged scholarship have been demonstrated through the on-‐going Amplifying Community Voices programme. The programme won a silver award in the Impumelelo Innovation Trust competition in 2008 and also third prize of the MacJannet Prize of Global Citizenship in June 2011. Another significant milestone in the growth and development of ACV has been the fact that it gave birth to the Amplifying Community Voices Students Association (ACVoSA), which was officially recognized as a bona fide student organization at UNIVEN and subsequently launched in November 2012. It is worth highlighting that the ACV approach is gaining widespread recognition as a potential roadmap for constructing community-‐owned municipal development plans or strategies, especially in Vhembe District of South Africa. Apart from this, Francis’s deep knowledge and experience with application of participatory tools in development practice saw him facilitate stakeholder engagements that culminated in the establishment of the highly vibrant Vhembe District Land Development Forum.
Ms. Hlekani Muchazotida Kabiti holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agribusiness Management (cum laude) from the University of Venda. Currently, she is in her final year of the Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at the same university. Since 2010, Hlekani has been an integral participant in the Amplifying Community Voices (ACV) program, which promotes engaged scholarship in rural community development. She was one of the pioneer leaders of the Amplifying Community Voices Students Association (ACVoSA), a student organisation born out of the ACV. Hlekani is the current Chairperson of ACVoSA, which leads efforts towards developing students’ capacity to enhance their contribution to community-‐engaged scholarship for rural development. In 2012, Hlekani participated in the Eastern/Southern African and Virginia Networks and Association (ESAVANA) Study Abroad Programme run by the University of Virginia (UVa), USA as well as the follow-‐up UVa-‐ESAVANA January 2013 Intensive Inter-‐ session Program, as an international resource person. She believes that her deep knowledge of ACV and ACVoSA will be crucial in the process of writing the planned book chapter.
University: Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico)
Region: Latin America
Brigadas Comunitarias is a program at Campus Queretaro since 1994. In collaboration with a governmental office (SEDESOL), ITESM seeks sustainable development of marginalized communities through education and fair work.
Six to eight students develop a program based in finding solutions to community needs and live conducted stays for two to four weeks in the marginalized communities, during summer or winter breaks. Students apply their development program and work hand-‐in-‐hand with the community. Brigadas Comunitarias can be educational or productive allowing the students to share their knowledge and learn with the community experimentally the challenges of the economic, politic and social development of Mexico.
The students work during tree different periods: before, during and after; to solve some of the community problems or opportunity areas that were detected as critical by the community itself. Students have to go through a selection process to measure their orientation to community work and evaluate their abilities; this informs the formation of student teams and community assignments. Once they successfully passed the selection process, students prepare for the “before” stage in which students take different workshops and training to prepare them for work in the community and guide them in the direction and expected impact of their projects.
Students visit the community they are assigned to in this stage, they get to know the problems and urgency’s of the people and they decide which will be the action plan. After the visit, they design and make a technical proposal that includes workshops, classes, courses and the lines and scope they want to follow. This proposal is supervised by the Coordinator of “Brigadas” and is presented to the community. “During” is the stage that students spend in the community; it includes the immersion time and fieldwork, where the students make their proposals happen. They spend this time working on different kind of activities. First, they work as a bridge to gain the community’s trust. Second, they directly attack the problem they aim to solve. The students live in the community in the same condition as the population. They learn to recognize everyday life and its problems. Thus, from the experiential knowledge, they can support the community and understand completely the challenges it faces. Once the students complete their stay in the community, they move to next stage, known as “After,” where they get involved in reflection workshops and they have a final presentation where they can show the scope of their projects. In this presentation they are evaluated by the “Brigadas” coordinator and by some representatives of the community where they worked. They are also expected to deliver some documentation papers that will help next team to continue working with the community.
Since 1999, Ernesto has been the Director of Social and Citizenship Education of Tecnológico de Monterrey. He has designed the methodology, implementation and assessment of various development programs with civic social organizations, curricular courses about citizenship and civic engagement and workshops aimed at improving university volunteer, community service, citizenship education and university social responsibility, as well as programs in underprivileged communities. Currently, he is the leader of the program to insert community service in Tecnológico de Monterrey’s curricula, implementation of service learning teaching techniques and citizenship across the curriculum as part of Tecnológico de Monterrey’s educational model. He is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology by the Universidad de Salamanca, in Spain, where he also obtained the Advance Studies Diploma in Social Anthropology. Ernesto graduated from the Program for the Strengthening of Social Leadership by the Academic and Professional Programs for the Americas (LASPAU), affiliated to Harvard University, with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation scholarship. He is an agronomist by the Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro. He has a Masters in Agricultural Productivity Sciences and a Masters in Administration with specialization in Human Resources. During his graduate studies, he received the CONACYT scholarship and participated as scholar-‐research assistant, respectively.
María Fernanda Pacheco Bravo was born in Mexico City and completed her undergraduate studies in Communication in Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus Querétaro. She graduated with the highest honor award that the Campus delivers to the best student of the total generation: “The Student Achievement Award.” María complimented her outstanding academic development with active participation in extracurricular activities. She was part of the student government as vice-‐president of the group in charge of intern elections on campus as well as part of the representative group of theater. María has always demonstrated a deep interest in Social and development activities. In fact she obtained the Social Service award for a strong commitment to social development. Currently she is pursuing an MA in Humanistic Studies with a concentration in Ethics. María has participated as speaker at different conferences such as the SELIDER Congress and Second Social Service National Congress ANUIES where she presented different perspectives of community development and social commitment. But her important and life changing experience was her five year volunteer work for A roof for my country, an international NGO that works to overcome extreme poverty in slums through training and joint actions of families and youth volunteers and her time as a Brigadista. There she developed important skills that made her a better person. During María’s time as volunteer and Brigadista, she coordinated the public relations of the NGO, consolidated a team, built a strong volunteer system, negotiated with government and industry representatives seeking for support and participated actively, directly and indirectly, in the development process of more the one hundred families. These experiences transformed her and made her want to work for development in her country and in all Latin America.
University: University of Witwatersrand (South Africa)
Region: Sub-‐Saharan Africa
The University of Witwatersrand (Wits), Community University Partnerships runs student community workcamps. In these workcamps, the students get to live and work with the rural community members for 10 days on community identified and initiated projects. The project includes working with women on farming, working with schools teaching Math, Science and English, Entrepreneur Skills development and working with local community organizations around health such as HIV/Aids, teenage pregnancies etc.
The work camp is a multi-‐partner project, which include a community members, students from two universities (Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique and University of Witwatersrand in South Africa), Samigos, a funding partner, and the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) a developmental organization. These villages are very rural poor and less developed, with no amenities such as running water, flushing toilets and dusty roads etc. The Community is identified by the partner Samigos, who needed help from the Wits University.
The 24 students are interviewed and selected from a number of students who have applied to participate in these workcamp. The students are from diverse faculties and selected based on the community‘s needs. They get to learn, live and work outside the comfort of their homes and live in another community in a different country. The work camps are logistically a big challenge; they require good planning and coordination. The selected students are highly involved in the whole planning and the execution of the workcamp.
Thabo Putu is a Director of Boundary Crossing (South Africa) a non-‐profit organization that promotes and supports citizen leadership and community engagement initiatives. He holds among other qualifications a Master’s Degree in Public Development and Management, a Bachelor of Arts, Advanced Diploma in Management and University Diploma in Education. Thabo is a teacher, a lecturer and a community activist with a strong passion for student engagement and development as well as community development. He has taught in a high school in Soweto, South Africa for 10 years prior to working for the University of Witwatersrand as a Programmes Manager for the Community University Partnerships, where he coordinated service learning, partnerships and student volunteering programs. He is credited for growing the Wits Volunteers and Civic Engagement Programme from just over 140 university students to over 3,000 students volunteering every week on various programs and projects within the communities in and around Johannesburg. He pioneered together with community partners and ran week-‐long work camps with students from two countries, Wits University (South Africa) and Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique) working in and with communities (about 260 students participated on workcamps). Thabo’s work has taken him abroad in many countries such as Australia, Britain Philippines, and he worked as an International Civil Society fellow of the Charles Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio USA; doing research work on community engagement in higher education. He has attended and presented papers on a number of conferences on various the topics around student leadership development and management, community engagement and higher education. The latest presentation at recent conference at Wits University titled “Community Engagement Whose Agenda Is It?” And co-‐authored a Volunteer Programme Development and Management training manual for South Africa organization that uses and involves volunteers. Thabo Putu is an academic, with a strong belief and commitment to deliberative change through engagement. He believes that higher education should develop good models for community development, and to learn from communities, through proper and sustainable partnerships.
Itumeleng Mafatshe is a currently a registered Masters student in the department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. She holds a B.A. in Political Sciences and Industrial and Economic Sociology from the same university. She has been involved with the University Student Representative and the Wits Volunteer Program (WVP), participating in community engagement work in the rural areas of Mozambique and South Africa. She is currently involved (as a leader and volunteer) in an organization called Uplifted Life, which is also a campus based initiative. Uplifted Life currently runs a mentoring and tutoring intervention programme, an orphanage in Zenzele (Johannesburg), and an outreach program that provides food, clothing, and shelter for street kids. Itu is fluent in English, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho and Afrikaans.
University: International Medical University (Malaysia)
The Kampung Angkat Project (KAP), translated Village Adoption Project, was initiated in 2007 as part of the International Medical University (IMU) Community Social Responsibility (CSR) under the banner of “IMU Cares” and in conjunction with IMU’s 15th anniversary. Under the program, each campus would adopt a village identified to have health and social issues and lacking in basic health facilities. The village identified for the IMU Clinical School in Seremban, is called Kampung Tekir, which is a village comprising mainly of indigenous people of the Tenum ethnic group. The village had a population of about 500 people, with 50% being children below 12 years old. It is located within a large oil palm estate. At the start, only part of the village had electricity supply and running untreated water. The nearest health clinic from the village was 20 km away.
The purpose of the program was to enable medical and nursing undergraduate students to practice their knowledge and skills in a rural setting. At the same time, the villagers would benefit from the presence of IMU students through regular free health checks and health education, the treatment of minor ailments, facilitation of referrals to appropriate health centres outside of the village when necessary, provision of free spectacles for visually impaired villagers and an opportunity for students and villagers to bond.
Since its launch in July 2007, IMU has continued its presence in the village through regular programs held once every 3-‐4 months. Typically in a year, there will be a one major program and several minor programs. The minor programs typically involve smaller groups of IMU medical and nursing students supervised by IMU lecturers who are specialists and they will perform house-‐to-‐house visits within the village providing health checks and health education. This approach was effective in reaching villagers who were either staying too far from the community hall or were reluctant to go to the hall for health checks. In the major program, the community hall within the village is used for health checks and health education with the addition of games and singing sessions, and health sports competition between the villagers and students.
Each program was planned and executed by the students via a committee formed by the students. The KAP committee facilitates the programs by ensuring that permission and approval were obtained from the various governmental agencies (such as the Ministry of health for medical supplies, the Department of Indigenous Population for approval, the Palm Oil estate management for permission to enter the village, the village committee for permission to use the community hall and publicity). As IMU expanded, students from other disciplines also took part such as students from dentistry, chiropractic and, nutrition and dietetics. All health checks and health education in each of the programs was performed by the students while supervision and guidance were provided by qualified IMU faculty.
James Koh is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Medicine at the International Medical University (IMU) where he has been a faculty member since 2000. He also serves as the Infectious Diseases Consultant at the Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar Seremban, Malaysia. James completed his subspecialty training in infectious diseases at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Royal Melbourne Hospital Australia. His research interests lie in the area of HIV medicine, infectious diseases, advocacy, marginalized communities and the use of information technology in the practice of medicine. James has served on many conference and workshop program committees in delivering updates on HIV medicine and infectious diseases and the training of medical officers aspiring to be physicians. He has served in an advisory role for a number of non-‐governmental organizations that cater to the needs of marginalized communities in Malaysia. James was the leader of the team that pioneered the adoption of an aboriginal village as an avenue for teaching-‐learning experience for IMU students. This initiative received the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship in 2013. James absolutely loves the outdoors and in his spare time, he can be found swimming, running and climbing mountains, often taking his students along with him. James has been married to Denise for 15 years and has 2 lovely children, Darlene (14) and Ryan (10).
Wong Chin Hoong, Lecturer
Wong Chin Hoong is a Lecturer at the International Medical University, serving with the Department of Family Medicine. He has been serving the International Medical University since September 2012. Chin Hoong was previously in a general practitioner in the United Kingdom before returning to Malaysia. He is presently a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom. His present research interests lie in the areas of ethics and professionalism and in community service. Chin Hoong has also pursued a masters in counseling to further his education. Chin Hoong is presently the Coordinator of the Kampung Sebir IMU Cares project, the extension to the Kampung Tekir project. Chin Hoong is passionate about serving the community, and in his spare time serve the community through his local church. He is also passionate about sports and loves to play squash.”
Pam Amni Zulkifar is a final year medical student at the International Medical University (IMU), Malaysia and is currently undergoing her clinical training at Kluang General Hospital. She is a government-‐sponsored student by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA). Previously she completed her Cambridge A’Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM and had gotten her high school certificate at Sri Aman Girls School. With regards to community work, she started being actively involved during her time at college where she co-‐founded the Pre-‐Medical Club, an association dedicated to exposing future medical professionals to their civic duty by means of cancer awareness programs, native family adoption project and many more. In IMU, she was elected as the Internal Director of IMU Community Service Club where she was in charge of planning weekly visits for the students to various charity homes throughout the year. She was also the Charity Home-‐Visit Manager for Orientation Week whereby newly registered students are divided into groups and given the opportunity to plan a project at charitable institutions all over the state. As she started her term at IMU Clinical School, she was chosen as the IMU Cares Kampung Angkat Project Coordinator under the umbrella of Student Representative Council. She was actively involved in the planning and execution of each home visit to the indigenous village, Kampung Tekir. IMU has been making regular visits to Kampung Tekir since 2007 providing health screening and education as well as the occasional fun and games to interact with the ever friendly villagers. In late 2012, she was also fortunate to do her electives in Cambodia teaching English to underprivileged primary school children for one month. Her initial attraction to the medical field became something much deeper when she realized the disparity of medical services available to the different layers of society and the need to start a change make it big or small.
University: American University in Cairo (Egypt)
Region: Arab States
The Lazord Academy was developed on the vision of a dynamic, modern Middle East led by innovative technologies, practices and models for development proper to the region, reviving its forgotten history in arts, literature, science and architectural with a visionary and connected individual at the center of this development. Lazord is the Arabic name for the stone Lapiz Lazughli, a blue stone with golden touches, present across the Arab region all the way to Asia. In Ancient Egypt, this stone was considered the stone of king’s court and adorned most of the jewels. In modern Arab history, the Arab word for the stone was forgotten though the stone remains a beauty of the region. Youth in many ways can be compared to this stone. Middle Eastern Youth are full of passion, fervently desiring to create a better world and bring the Middle East in the news for innovation, development and vision for a sustainable, cohesive Arab future.
The Lazord model was built to address the assessment related to graduates civic engagement and career life. On the one hand, the MENA region has seen a significant growth in capacity development programs focusing on youth, however, few have developed a comprehensive educational methodology allowing a holistic learning journey, blending skill-‐building for improved professionalism and employability as well as citizenship education. On the other hand, the linkage between the higher education system and the professional world is a fragmented one leading recent graduates to be little prepared for the realities awaiting them while organizations are wary to receive them. Through bridging the university resources with the communities needs while learning from these same communities allows an authentic and practical dialogue between both worlds. The program offers a mixture of professional skills to be developed around the topic of civic education and engagement. With this methodology, the Lazord program aims to develop them professionally while learning how to be responsible, civic oriented professionals and allowing them to seize opportunities in their field for civic development.
The Lazord program bases itself on the idea that learning is to happen in a holistic journey, taking into account the necessary knowledge, skill-‐building needs while allowing for the introspective reflection for the learner. Therefore to ensure this in-‐depth development, the program is meant to be small in order to allow the learner to have the proper attention for him/her to explore his/her field and its relationship with civic engagement. The Academy aims at reinforcing critical and evidence-‐based thinking. Civic education can be broken down into five categories: values, attitude and behavior, knowledge, skills, and practice. The methodology used seeks to provide the framework for exploring each of these categories in relationship to the self, the direct links and finally imagined communities. Therefore to provide the programmatic structure to this journey, each participant goes through a series of workshops, experiential activities (both in the secure environment of the classroom or in the field) mentorship, and guided reflection.
Ms. Nelly Corbel is the founder and manager of the University Civic Engagement unit at the Gerhart Center. Ms. Corbel has over 9 years of work experience in university student development, including six years in developing educational programs. Her background in conflict resolution and university-‐based civic leadership gives her a unique perspective on the current context in Egypt and the region. Her research interests have focused on citizenship and human rights education. She is currently providing leadership to a number of university-‐based programs including the incubation of Debate Egypt, the first Egyptian Debate championship, the Ma’an Arab University Alliance (Talloires Network Regional Partner), and the Lazord Academy for civic leadership, which she co-‐founded in 2011. The same year, she also developed a distance training platform for election monitors in cooperation with Stanford “Peace Innovation Lab.” Ms. Corbel participated in drafting recommendations and provided consultancies for a variety of international organizations and governments on youth, civic education, volunteerism and the democratic transition. She aspires at bringing youth at the center of the decision making process and widespread a civic culture in Egypt and the region. Nelly Corbel is the representative of the Dalai Lama Fellowship in Egypt, a member of the board of advisor for the Community-‐Based Learning program at AUC and the Executive Director of the Lazord Foundation. She holds a Master degree in “International Affairs: Civil Society Development and Conflict Resolution” (American University of Paris), a Mastère 2 in “Sciences Economiques et Sociales: Sociologie des Conflits” (Institut Catholique de Paris) and Bachelors in International Politics from American University in Paris.
Ms. Rana Gaber is the Director of Programs in the Egyptian Youth Federation and a leading figure in the field of youth development through working in several youth led NGOs in Egypt. She is also a co-‐founder of Majal for Consultancy & Training, a social enterprise acting as a network of youth initiatives working in the field of nonviolent communication, conflict resolution, dialogue, and citizenship. In addition to being a volunteer in an NGO working in one of the poorest villages in Egypt, she is an active member in a number of youth initiatives and projects, the Ambassadors for Dialogue is one example, where she was able to build a national team of dialogue facilitators in different universities acting as a hub for spreading the culture of dialogue. Throughout the past two years Ms. Gaber has participated in numerous international conferences, to provide expertise on the Egyptian Youth. Rana is a graduate of the Faculty of Economic and Political Science at Cairo University and holds a diploma in International Relations from the American University in Cairo.
University: Auburn University (Alabama, United States)
Region: North America
Living Democracy provides a select number of undergraduate students a living-‐learning summer experience in community development in an Alabama community. Begun in 2012 as an experiment in helping undergraduate students and citizens form longer-‐than-‐usual relationships with local citizens, the program requires students to take courses in civic engagement and community journalism.
Through a workshop designed to launch community-‐student relationships, students learn about the hopes and dreams of an Alabama community, as well as the unrealized potential of many of the town’s assets. As they discover more about the communities, students develop project ideas and plans over the course of the spring semester. During the summer, students live in communities, execute projects, and reflect on various aspects of civic life through a series of writing assignments. Past projects include the organization of youth development programs; assistance with development of a canoe trail/rental service; economic development DVD script development; art camps for children; and community events that celebrate people and place.
Students reflect on their town and their work through a series of blog entries that are found at www.aulivingdemocracy.wordpress.com. During the 2013 summer, al.com, the state’s largest online news platform, published student writing that featured unique aspects of communities. These posts can be found at http://connect.al.com/user/aulivingdemocracy/posts.html. The Kettering Foundation of Dayton, Ohio—an operating research foundation on issues related to democracy—is a collaborator in the experiment, and articles on the program can be found in their Connections newsletter and journal Higher Education Exchange.
Dr. Mark Wilson is Director of Civic Learning Initiatives in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. Originally from Saraland, Alabama, he holds degrees from the University of Mobile (B.A.), McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University (M.Div.) and Auburn University (Ph.D.). He currently teaches the Introduction to Community and Civic Engagement Course and a practicum that includes a living-‐learning experience in an Appalachian community. He is an Appalachian Teaching Fellow with the Appalachian Regional Commission. He coordinates research and action projects with partners (Kettering Foundation, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, Appalachian Regional Commission) and communities around the state. He is the author of several articles and the book William Owen Carver’s Controversies in the Baptist South, published by Mercer University Press. Wilson serves as the secretary of the Alabama Historical Association and lives in Auburn with his wife and two children.
As a first generation urban dweller with parents from rural Kentucky and rural Italy, Marie Cirillo grew up experiencing a bit of both rural and urban living. At age 19 she headed out to find a more favored place to live in rural America. Marie found it in the most rural places within Appalachia, the hinterlands where coal is mined and trees are cut. After 15 years in five different places, she decided to follow the Appalachian migrants to Chicago where she lived in their Uptown neighborhood. Marie attended Loyola University where she acquired a degree in Sociology and enjoyed lots of research in her neighborhood. On Marie’s return to the mountains in 1967, she settled in the Clearfork Valley of Tennessee and in the spirit of the 1960s she was ready to fight the U.S. War On Poverty. The approach was to empower the poor to lead themselves out of poverty. Marie would help them make their own advances. After pursuing this mission for 30 years, two mountain women and Marie thought it was time to analyze why so many noble attempts to rid the community of poverty were lost. Marie and the two women decided to turn the last of the old coal camp schools into a living-‐learning center for young adults. The first curriculum had to be an inter-‐generational sharing of their lived experiences. The desire to start over while learning from past failures and successes allowed them to use and develop a great diversity of research methods. The migration experiences that gave many families insights to both rural and urban problems gave them an important perspective on today’s national problems. Marie remains active even in her eighth decade convinced that a nation without a healthy rural society is inviting trouble. The possibilities for better connectivity between rural and urban America are limitless. Auburn students, with Mark Wilson have become integral her community’s existence.
University: University of Western Sydney (Australia)
The Refugee Action Support (RAS) program, which began in 2007, is a collaborative initiative between the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Charles Sturt University, Sydney University, the Australian Numeracy and Literacy Foundation (ANLF), and the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Communities (DEC). RAS provides targeted literacy support to humanitarian refugee students in primary and secondary schools across the Sydney region and rural New South Wales. These students are refugees who require additional assistance with English language and literacy for social and learning purposes. Tutors are pre-‐service education, social work and speech pathology students. The Australian Numeracy and Literacy Foundation provides tutors with training in the required literacy and numeracy strategies that will support student learning.
Associate Professor Loshini Naidoo is a senior lecturer in social justice education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Her academic areas of interest include social and cultural diversity and difference and transnationalism. Her current research is related to refugee and indigenous issues particularly literacy among newly arrived refugees in Greater Western Sydney secondary schools and literacy needs of Aboriginal students in the Northern Territory, Australia. She was the recipient of a teaching excellence award from the Australian Teaching Learning Council for her outstanding contribution to student learning in 2011. In 2012 she won the outstanding individual educator (International) award from the International Centre for service learning in Teacher Education (ICSLTE) at Duke University North Carolina, USA and that same year (2012) won a large, prestigious federal government research grant to support pathways for the transition of refugee students from high schools into tertiary education.
Eric Brace is the Executive Educational Advisor for the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF), where he coordinates the Refugee Action Support and Community Action Support programs. Eric has been involved in the education sector since he began teaching in 1998 in the alternative education system in San Diego, California. In Australia, he has worked for the Foundation for Young Australia, where he was in charge of the organization Youth Participation and Engagement Strategies. In addition, he has worked as a literacy and learning support teacher for a diverse range of students, including young people with significant learning difficulties as well as ESL students. His work at the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation also involves activities conducted with remote Indigenous communities. In relation to research, he is interested in the social construction of literacy, particularly in how social interactions influence literacy engagement and perception.