United by Shared Commitments: Civic Action Planning Across Minnesota

Eleven Minnesota campuses convened for MNCC civic action planning sessions hosted at Augsburg College and Winona State University in June, 2016, including representatives from Augsburg College, Century College, the College of St. Benedict, Concordia University – St. Paul, Inver Hills Community College, Northwestern Health Sciences University, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, St. Cloud State University, St. John’s University, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota Rochester, and Winona State University. Though representing a range of institutional types, common commitments connect their planning, which became particularly evident at the Winona State University session taking place aboard the Cal Fremling floating classroom.

As UMR Chancellor Stephen Lehmkuhle emphasized in his remarks to the Winona gathering, Minnesota Campus Compact member institutions are united in their drive to serve the greater good, whether through teaching, research, or institutional practices and partnerships. In light of this, many teams discussed shifting their focus away from measuring how much community engagement activity they produce and toward articulating the outcomes supported by that engagement.

Teams composed of staff, administrators, and faculty from many disciplines and philosophical orientations also emphasized that courses can teach civic skills and prepare students for life, work, and citizenship through both classroom and community-based pedagogy. Taken as a whole, these types of courses complement one another and advance shared student learning and development goals.

Indeed, civic engagement is core to these institutions’ identities, not simply the work of one office or those involved in engaged research or service learning. Reflecting this, SCSU is embedding its action plan in its existing campus-wide strategic plan and aligning it with the Husky Compact. In this time of presidential transition, they are committed to carrying on the legacy of Earl Potter by sustaining and deepening the campus’s commitments. Winona State University strives to be “a community of learners improving the world,” so their team will build on this existing commitment and cultivate an institutional culture where civic work is everyone’s work. Similarly, as UMR moves into a growth phase, they are considering how to sustain and scale up their current commitment to community engagement.

Further Civic Action Planning sessions include August 10, 2016 at the University of Minnesota, Morris; on August 17, 2016 at the University of St. Thomas, as well as a date TBD at Normandale Community College. For those campuses interested in participating in a Civic Action Planning session, please contact Sinda Nichols at sinda {at} mncampuscompact(.)org or 612-436-2080.