Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change

The Ginsberg Center ended 2018 with a bang, in part due to the debut of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change, created in collaboration with partners from U-M’s Global Engagement Team, College of Engineering, School of Information, School of Social Work, and the Office of the Provost.

The project began in 2016 with the question that underlies all of our student engagement efforts: how do we better prepare students to do public engagement work? It turns out, it’s a question that was plaguing others too. After all, there are an abundance of service work opportunities for students at U-M but no formal structure (or requirements) for preparatory work. That means many students are diving into the process cold.

Our final answer? A MOOC. A comprehensive introduction to public engagement work, developed thanks to a grant from the Provost’s Office.  Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change provides resources for learners to better understand community engagement, and how they may more effectively engage in their practice. The course comprises five individual modules, all determined based on input from faculty, staff, students, and community partners. Each module contains a variety of content, including videos, activities, reflections, and knowledge checks.

“We wanted the MOOC to be content-specific and available to anyone across the globe with internet access,” says Danyelle Reynolds, Ginsberg’s Assistant Director for Student Learning and Leadership. “It’s also really flexible. People can do the whole course or just the modules that are relevant to them.”

Many Ginsberg partners are already using the MOOC as part of their courses and programs. Our team has been adapting our community engagement workshops to build upon and deepen the learning from the MOOC. For example, the Dow Fellows-- part of the Graham Sustainability Institute-- are completing parts of the first two modules in preparation for a Ginsberg Center workshop that will use cases and exercises to give students to apply ideas from the MOOC  to their sustainability-focused projects in the program. For example, the Dow Fellows-- part of the Graham Sustainability Institute-- are completing parts of the first two modules in preparation for a Ginsberg Center workshop. They’ll apply content from the MOOC modules to their own sustainaility-focused projects.

We used a similar approach when working with the Practical Community Learning Project, a Ford School applied policy seminar where students work within civic agencies. After assigning portions of the first module, our workshop built upon the ideas around ethical community engagement to further build their knowledge.

The modules and their subsections include:

Module 1: Community Context and Ethical Engagement

  • Community Engagement: Working in Context
  • Valuing Community Expertise
  • Collecting and Organizing Community Information
  • Ethical Engagement

Module 2: Social Identities, Power, and Privilege

  • Social Identities
  • Power and Society
  • Privilege

Module 3: Collaborative Leadership

  • Building Partnerships
  • Listening in the Community
  • Adaptability and Flexibility
  • Conflict Negotiation

Module 4: Reflections and Transitions

  • Personal Reflection for Thoughtful Engagement
  • Navigating Transitions: Adapting and Thriving
  • Sharing Your Story

Module 5: Community-Engaged Project Management

  • Planning
  • Taking Action
  • Evaluating Success
  • Sustainability and Knowledge

“It’s really a wealth of information that we hope will better prepare all of its users, including students and student organizations and faculty, to ethically and respectfully enter, engage with, and exit the communities they aim to serve,” Reynolds adds.

Access the MOOC