In Soul of a Citizen, Paul Loeb describes a conversation with a college student shortly after President Obama took office. When asked about the national mood, she said, “Everyone’s unsure of what’s going to happen in so many areas, so we’re waiting to watch and see.”
Recently, the Office for Community Engagement hosted SynergyWorks, a university-wide conversation about GVSU’s community engagement. Roundtable discussions focused on building our infrastructure to support engagement, resulting in the specific recommendations listed below. Many are now waiting to watch and see what will happen.
But this way, it’s fairly certain little will happen. Infrastructure is by its very nature systemic, requiring contribution and change from almost everyone. Our university is perfectly aligned to get the results that it does. We each play a role to preserve our current structures or we intentionally redesign our system to meet the needs of a very real present and future. To rely on leadership or one office or one person is not only foolish, it also abdicates the responsibility to shape the areas that each “citizen” knows intimately, where each has influence, knowledge, and assets to share.
The time for waiting and watching is past. Whether you are faculty, staff, or student, as a GVSU citizen, you can help build infrastructure for engagement to benefit you, our university, and our communities.
The next part is simple: review the list below, find the area where you can contribute, and call us with your commitment.
- Secure the technical expertise and resources necessary to develop a web-based searchable partnership data collection system
- Link people around common interests and support emerging cross-disciplinary/cross-sector partnerships
- Build the case for a place-based signature engagement
- Create policy that will recognize, reward, and promote synergistic community engagement
- Increase ways for students to identify academic service learning and community engagement opportunities
- Create a student planning/design tool that builds on the Blueprint for Success