FOREWORD: 50th Anniversary of CCEL
As I reflect on the 2018-2019 academic year for this edition of the Michigan State University Community-Engaged Learning Index, I have also paused to wonder how we will reflect on this point in time. With a global pandemic, incomprehensible racial inequality, and a volatile political climate, I am certain that the field of community-engaged teaching and learning will be challenged to expand in ways that were previously unimaginable and are now absolutely necessary.
Reflection is an essential component of community-engaged learning. We learned much from looking back on the 2018-2019 academic year. By exploring the data and stories in this report, we hope that you will also reflect on the learning that occurs when partners come together to face some of life’s biggest challenges.
In 2018, the MSU Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement forged into the future with a celebration of 50 years of community partnership, a reconsidered ethos, a new recognition program for students, improved technology, and a new name.
The MSU Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is the oldest continuously operating service-learning center in the nation. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Together with community partners, faculty, and students, the center has offered reciprocal, quality service-learning and civic engagement opportunities for five decades. To honor the contributions of students, faculty, staff, and community partners, the center sought nominations for a special recognition in 2018, the Champion Community Partner Award. MSU faculty, staff, and students were invited to nominate community partners for the Award. Awardees and their nominators were invited to a special award breakfast and pre-game celebration before attending an MSU home football game together. There were over 400 people engaged in this special celebration.
In 2018, the center aimed to be one of the first centers to acknowledge the expansion of the field to include all types of community-engaged learning. In expanding the support for capacity-building, advocacy, philanthropy, community development, and more, to the already established efforts around service-learning and civic engagement, the center continued its journey toward more inclusive and equitable practices. This change in practice required a change in the center’s identity as well. In 2019, the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement became the Center for Community Engaged Learning.
The Spartan Volunteer Service Award (SVSA) was bolstered by pairing the award with the newly developed MSU Civic Life Application. Students who serve over 100 hours in a year are recognized by the MSU Office of the President and the Center for Community Engaged Learning. Students log their community engagement in the MSU Civic Life Application to become eligible for the SVSA Award. The application allows students to learn more about community partners, types of community engagement, and their own passions.
In reviewing this edition of the MSU Community-Engaged Learning Index, we believe that you will find the efforts of our partners, students, and colleagues to be impressive and impactful. We firmly believe that the principles with which the center was originally founded in 1968 provide a secure foundation for growth. Please take a moment to reflect with us on our first 50 years, as shared in the timeline below.
Please also consider joining us as we build the path to the future—a future that includes all voices, values differing perspectives, and demonstrates equity. I hope when it is time to reflect on the 2019-2020 academic year, we will be able to see the changes that will be required to repair the health and vitality of communities.
Thank you to the students, faculty, staff, and community partners whose stories appear in the edition of the index. Your efforts are inspiring, your dedication is appreciated, and the impact of your engagement will be reflected upon for years to come.
Renee Brown, Director