Communities of Practice

Chairs - COP

With our pilot Communities of Practice going well, we are excited to announce that MNCC and the University of Minnesota Office for Public Engagement will co-sponsor a second set of CoPs in 2017-18. This summer we’ll also hold five regional gatherings that will include a train-the-trainer session on communities of practice. If you might be interested in hosting one of the regional gatherings and/or co-facilitating an institutional, local/regional, or statewide issue-focused CoP, please contact Sinda at MNCC or contact Amber at OPE. Watch this site for a call for CoP proposals, coming soon.

The following five Communities of Practice are being offered in 2016-17:

1) Beyond the Individual: Building Collaboratives for Greater Impact (Creating and measuring impact collectively) 
2) Culture of Collaborative Engagement (Overcoming institutional silos) 
3) Dialogue and Deliberation Across the Curriculum (Teaching and learning strategies)
4) Engaging in Difficult Conversations Across Difference to Promote Trust, Compassion, and Empathy
5) How Do We Make Engagement Work for All People? (Supporting engagement with low-income students and students of color)

Learn more about each topic here

Why Communities of Practice?

Those in a community of practice share a common concern or passion and learn how to advance that passion through regular shared interaction. The members of a community of practice share a domain of interest, engage in joint activities, and have an ongoing, sustained interaction over time contributing to their shared practice. Communities of practice can serve varied functions, including solving problems, sharing information, providing experience, utilizing shared assets, coordinating and strategizing, building a case for action, documenting projects, mapping knowledge, gaining confidence, and more. (Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015)

Minnesota Campus Compact (MNCC), in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Office for Public Engagement, is facilitating a set of communities of practice (COPs) to explore the effectiveness of COPs in advancing higher education community engagement efforts. Our purpose in convening these COPs is:

  • to enhance individuals’ capacity to do community engagement work in higher education;
  • address key issues and themes emerging from the Cultural Agility Collaboration and Civic Action Planning sessions
  • to harvest resources, research findings, program models, insights, webinars, conference sessions, etc., to share with those beyond a specific community of practice; and
  • to build the field’s knowledge about communities of practice as a model for professional development.

What issues will the communities of practice address?

The 2016-17 Communities of Practice, offered by MNCC in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Office for Public Engagement, are intended to support collaborative learning and leadership around key issues related to fulfilling the five commitments laid out in Campus Compact’s 30th Anniversary Action Statement:

  • We empower our students, faculty, staff, and community partners to co-create mutually respectful partnerships in pursuit of a just, equitable, and sustainable future for communities beyond the campus—nearby and around the world.
  • We prepare our students for lives of engaged citizenship, with the motivation and capacity to deliberate, act, and lead in pursuit of the public good.
  • We embrace our responsibilities as place based institutions, contributing to the health and strength of our communities—economically, socially, environmentally, educationally, and politically.
  • We harness the capacity of our institutions—through research, teaching, partnerships, and institutional practice—to challenge the prevailing social and economic inequalities that threaten our democratic future.
  • We foster an environment that consistently affirms the centrality of the public purposes of higher education by setting high expectations for members of the campus community to contribute to their achievement.

Who can participate in the communities of practice?

COPs are open to faculty, staff, administrators, students, and community partners affiliated with MNCC member campuses and/or a University of Minnesota campus who have a strong interest and commitment to participate in a COP. Not sure if your campus is a member of MNCC, learn more here. MNCC operates on the belief that we all have valuable knowledge to share and learning to do. The COPs are designed to leverage connections and open conversations that might not otherwise occur. Our goal is to have 8-12 participants in each COP.

What is the commitment required?  

COP members will participate in four video call conversations with their Community of Practice over the academic year.  They will also convene for one in-person gathering in February, free of charge to COP members, with mileage reimbursed for those traveling from Greater Minnesota.

While co-chairs will facilitate each COP, COP members will be asked to contribute to a culture of shared learning. We are seeking participants who are willing to actively engage in ownership of the group, including bringing questions, multiple forms of knowledge, and their own identities and experiences to the process. Participants need not be experts in their COP topic, though having passion and a desire to learn about the topic are important. COPs are intended to be spaces to grow and learn.  

In order to participate fully, participants are required to have a web cam  with mic and a computer with reliable, fast internet.

Why video calls?

The values of inclusion and openness lead us to use digital strategies. While there are both distinct opportunities and challenges that accompany this web-based strategy, our experience with previous projects suggests video calls will allow a wider range of individuals from a broader geography to learn from one another. It also saves time and expense related to travel, lowering barriers to participation. If the video calls prevent accessibility for a participant, staff will work to develop appropriate accommodations within reason.   

How will participants be chosen?

Participants will be selected based on:

  • Interest in and capacity to contribute to a COP
  • Ability to commit to full participation
  • Geographic, institutional, and role distribution

How do I apply?

Please complete this online form that includes your  name, title, institution/organization, email, COP preferences, and a paragraph about your interest.

Have more questions?  

With any questions, you’re welcome to contact Sinda Nichols, Associate Director of Minnesota Campus Compact, at sinda {at} mncampuscompact(.)org or 612-436-2080, or Amber Cameron, Associate Director for Public Engagement Initiatives, Office for Public Engagement, University of Minnesota, at acameron {at} umn(.)edu or 612-624-1706.