Ginsberg Is...Elana Goldenkoff

As a Graduate Academic Liaison at the Ginsberg Center, my work has primarily been facilitating workshops for classes and student organizations preparing for community-engaged service learning projects. In this role, I have also analyzed student feedback forms from these workshops and curated a list of ways facilitators can improve the content and format of workshops to better meet students' needs.  

Separately, I worked with Turn Up Turnout and the Big 10 Voting Challenge during the lead-up to the 2020 elections to help students access and cast ballots and find information on candidates and proposals. My work aligns closely with the Policy and Governance and Community Organizing and Activism pathways. Sharing voting/election information and resources helps increase participation in the political process, while facilitating workshops on preparing for and working with communities emphasizes to students the importance of conducting ethical and equitable community-engaged learning projects.

In my experience, STEM students spend less time thinking about their social identities, the societal impact of their work, and how their studies and careers relate to the political environment and the greater community than their peers in other fields. It has been really valuable for me to help STEM students – who statistically vote at a lower rate than humanities students – participate in democratic processes. Personally, working with Ginsberg has helped me become more aware of my personal social identities and biases and how they impact my PhD research. It has helped me consider how my background shapes the types of questions I ask and decisions I make in the lab.

Through my experiences at Ginsberg, I have gained skills in group facilitation, including meaning-making, reflection, and how to deliver and receive feedback. Many of these leadership competencies are not emphasized in my other graduate studies, so I have greatly appreciated the chance to grow and gain leadership experience through the Ginsberg Center.

I have learned how important it is to be an engaged member of my community and have grown in my role as an active citizen on campus and in Washtenaw County. I have been challenged to think about how to change the research-subject recruitment processes to better reflect the diversity of our community. And I have been encouraged by peers at the Ginsberg Center and the Ford School to meet with my local representatives and share my opinions on current issues facing the Ann Arbor city government.

Are you a doctoral student interested in deepening your understanding of community engagement while connecting with other doctoral students from across the university? Apply to serve as a Graduate Academic Liason by Friday, April 15, 2022. Learn more about the program here.