The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Anne Mondro

Anne Mondro is an Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Co-Director at Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Anne and Joe Trumpey, Associate Professor of Art and Design, co-taught Social Spaces this Fall which explores the ways in which artists and designers work within the public sphere. Students explored the practice of socially engaged art and design while building skills essential to engagement work including how to observe, interview, and collaborate through a partnership with Growing Hope, in Ypsilanti. 

Partnering with the Ginsberg Center

Anne worked with the Ginsberg Center over a number of months, utilizing a range of our services. Anne first approached the Ginsberg Center last year to ask for support in re-designing a seminar to include community engagement. She consulted with Ginsberg Center staff to consider multiple course design options. Anne wanted to partner with a local community organization to allow her students to practice the skills the seminar introduced.

The Center offered multiple community partner options from our collection of local partner priorities, and after some initial conversations with staff and community partners, partnered with Michael from Growing Hope to have students create interactive art and design projects for the Ypsilanti Farmer's Market. In partnership with Michael Anthony, Volunteer Manager, they eventualy decided to have students interact with the Farmer's Market and the Growing Hope staff four times during the semester rather than weekly, reducing transportation and logistical challenges while still giving students exposure to the community context.  

Anne also worked with one of our Graduate Liaisons, Allison Caine, who offered an initial workshop to prepare students for community engagement and a follow-up session to help transfer what they learned in their group projects to their final project proposal. 

Anne's Community-Engaged Teaching Experience

Anne has a deep history with a style of engaged community practice where long-term relationships are at the heart of the creative outcome; recently, she received an NEA grant for her collaborative community art-making project for teens and memory-impaired adults. However, interactive creative projects in the public sphere was newer terrain for her. Working with the Ginsberg Center helped Anne establish initial community connections and assisted in coordinating partner matching.

Anne stated, “Ginsberg helped alleviate a lot of that stress because I was able to have several conversations in terms of developing the partnership and thinking through the structures and resources that [community partners] provided”.

Anne learned that community-engaged teaching is an opportunity to rely on student and peer learning, empowering students to transfer knowledge through co-educating.

“To see that transfer is really exciting in the students and it makes your teaching that much more meaningful and it’s always a way to connect to the community and get out of the university bubble.

I tend to put everything on myself and I think there’s a way that the students can bring more ownership in a class like this, so that's something I can work on. So being open to the fact that you don't have to know all the answers and you don’t have to be the sole educator is key.”

Taking her course from an exercise to the real thing develops real life skills in students to support future careers and recognizing positive citizenship. Through this experience, Anne has learned to be flexible and trust her students.  

“Thinking about the students and the conversations I’m having with them has really solidified for me that impact doesn’t have to be a numbers game... empowering one person is a substantial impact.”

For faculty considering integrating community engagement into their teaching, Anne stated it takes time, effort, and flexibility to develop mutually beneficial learning environments for community partners and students. Team teaching within her department was key to building on her colleague's strengths and developing strategies together to support her teaching and the department.

"There's more growing pains to working with a community partner than in other class projects. It's important to remember that it's okay to experience those challenges and to reflect on them. And that is doesn't mean you're a bad teacher.

I’m enjoying learning that there are different ways to work with a community partner. [It's been] really insightful this semester to think about the range of ways to work with partners."