1) Beyond the Individual: Building Collaboratives for Greater Impact 

(Creating and measuring impact collectively) 

Description: How can we move in this field to value collaborative engagement beyond individual achievement, at a student, institutional, and cross-institutional level?  We seek to explore both the process of collaboration building, opportunities and challenges therein, and its evaluations.  We also want to explore the strength and potential for impact that can come from longer term endeavors that seek to address broader societal issues by bringing diverse groups of students, faculty and higher education institutions together such as four year liberal arts colleges, research universities with their extension programs, and community colleges.


Elaine Eschenbacher, Director, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg College (bio)

Adrienne Falcon, Director of Academic Civic Engagement, Carleton College (bio)

2) Culture of Collaborative Engagement 

(Overcoming institutional silos) 

Description: How can we foster an institutional culture of collaboration on civic work and move beyond existing structures that often impede more dynamic and synergistic work?  We know that both communities and students benefit when people and resources from across campus work together on common community engagement efforts, pooling their resources and strengths towards a common goal.  Despite this knowledge, much of higher education’s work is offered in piecemeal efforts within an institution.  We will explore the problems of working “in silos”, offer strategies for creating cultures of collaboration within existing structures and develop concrete plans within our own institutions that foster greater communication, alignment and engagement in community work.  These models will be shared within the network for use at various types of higher education institutions.


Erin Slattengren, Engagement Zone Coordinator-University District, Government and Community Relations, and PhD Student, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, University of Minnesota (bio)

Karin Trail-Johnson, Associate Dean, Institute for Global Citizenship and Director, Civic Engagement Center, Macalester College (bio)

3) Dialogue and Deliberation Across the Curriculum 

(Teaching and learning strategies)

Description: This Community of Practice will explore teaching and learning strategies around deliberation and dialogic engagement. Dialogue and deliberation, we argue, cultivate student abilities necessary to explore enduring and multidisciplinary questions and solve persistent public problems. These types of questions and problems are those for which there is no singular position, nor answer. They are complex, multi-layered, interdisciplinary, and often reveal the values inherent in policy issues and choices necessary in the practice of democratic citizenship. They are questions/issues where participants must weigh the tradeoffs and tensions that are integral in any approach to solving the problem. They are questions that typically invite difficult conversations, where participants practice deep listening and critical self-reflection. Thus, the capacities necessary for productive and meaningful dialogue and deliberation–critical thinking, empathic listening, creative problem solving, ethical leadership, collaboration, issues framing–are not only essential for sustaining a vibrant democracy, they are the best preparation for our students/citizens/graduates to be successful in the 21st century.


Marla Kanengieter-Wildeson, Professor, Communication Studies and Co-Coordinator, American Democracy Project, St. Cloud State University (bio)

Kara Lindaman, Professor, Political Science/Public Administration, Winona State University (bio)

4) Engaging in Difficult Conversations Across Difference to Promote Trust, Compassion, and Empathy

Description: In this Community of Practice, participants will share our own experiences engaging in difficult conversations across difference (e.g., race, gender identity, faith traditions, beliefs, cultures, values, intersecting identities, etc.), challenge ourselves to deepen our practice of listening and engaging in these important conversations, reflect on and make meaning of our individual and collective practices, and support each other to extend our lifelong practice of engaging in conversations that promote trust, compassion, and empathy.  


Laura Dammer Hess, Assistant Director, Center for Community-Engaged Learning, University of Minnesota (bio)

Gloria Honda, Organizer, Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative (bio)

5) How Do We Make Engagement Work for All People? 

(Supporting engagement with low-income students and students of color)

Description:  This Community of Practice will focus on engagement work that is accessible and relevant to all stakeholders, including low-income students and diverse racial and cultural communities.  We will examine how lived experiences and current events impact the participation of different groups in engagement work. What we create through the co-learning process will be shared with the broader community.  


Dave Ellis, Principal, Dave Ellis Consulting, LLC (bio)

Awale Osman, Student Success Coach, TRIO SSS, Normandale Community College (bio)


  • Initiatives