In light of the University's responses to Covid-19, we are sharing Ginsberg Center's plans for the near future, as well as providing some guidance for how you can support your community partners throughout the rest of the school year and through the summer. We want to acknowledge that the uncertainty of the current situation is difficult, and it impacts us all—materially, physically, and emotionally—in different ways. Clear communication can help alleviate some of the worry for your students and the community partners with which you are engaging.
The Ginsberg Center Remains Open
In response to the ongoing and uncertain nature of the Covid-19 crisis, we have adapted our approach to offer virtual support to academic partners in numerous ways:
Virtual sessions to prepare students for community engagement
- Given that classes will be virtual through the summer, we encourage you to integrate the Community Engagement MOOC into your courses to provide your students with foundational knowledge about respectful, culturally responsive, and equitable community engagement. We would be glad to work with you to identify which sections might be most helpful.
- We are offering virtual workships to prepare students to ethically enter, engage and exit communities.
Resources for adapting your course for virtual instruction
- We have compiled ideas and resources to adapt your community-engaged course for virtual instruction. We will continue to develop these resources in the coming weeks.
- For additional resources on remote learning, please refer to the University of Michigan’s Remote Resources Guide and the Center for Academic Innovation’s guidance on remote instruction.
Resources for supporting students' civic engagement
The current crisis highlights the critical necessity for having all of our interests represented by elected officials and governing bodies.
- In anticipation of the upcoming election, we have compiled simple ways to support your students' civic engagement.
- We also offer tools and strategies for integrating civic engagement into your courses. We are working with our campus and national civic partners to continue to develop additional content, activities, and ideas for supporting students’ full engagement in civic life.
Responding to Emerging Community Needs with the Connect2Community portal
As a community engagement center at the University of Michigan, the Ginsberg Center is in contact with other central engagement units on campus, and is working to align and amplify efforts where possible. The Ginsberg Center will continue to work to make accessing and coordinating information easier during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please use and share the Connect2Community Portal.
U-M's Impact Beyond Our Campus
While we are naturally thinking about and planning for potential impacts of Covid-19 for us and our students, as community-engaged scholars and practitioners we know that changes at U-M will have broader impacts. U-M is the largest employer in Washtenaw County, so any changes on campus will have real, immediate consequences for many—regardless of their direct affiliation with the University. In Washtenaw County and throughout southeast Michigan, some of our most vulnerable community members are older adults, people experiencing homelessness, and those who are homebound. Beyond immediate health concerns, there may be food security impacts for local residents including preK-12 students without access to meals through school, where there are school closures. Service industry workers are already facing serious financial insecurity as social gatherings and the regular cadence of community activities are scaled back. Recognizing the impact of our campus on our surrounding community is critical to understanding how we best serve our mission as a public university.
Safety is our priority but volunteering is allowed
Per Governor Whitmer’s executive order effective March 24, 2020, we are all encouraged to minimize contact with others, one of the exceptions is to volunteer with groups that are helping provide food, shelter and other necessities during the crisis. Any community support provided is strictly voluntary, and direct community service should only be done by those who are fit and well with no symptoms. The majority of tasks can be done while social distancing and there are numerous ways to offer remote support for those who cannot offer direct support but still wish to help. We want to emphasize that your safety is a priority.
Use Connect2Community for current direct and remote projects
Our enhanced Connect2Community portal is where you can find continually updated needs and opportunities shared by our community partners that might be in keeping with your areas of practice, research, or expertise.
This portal is a joint effort with our local United Way and Eastern Michigan University to ensure that our community partners within Washtenaw and surrounding counties have access to a broad range of volunteers and support for their evolving needs related to Covid-19.
We know from past natural disasters and emergencies that initial waves of volunteers often become fatigued, creating the need for replenishment and respite personnel. Given the nature of Covid-19, the possibility of this is even greater. Therefore, we ask that you please check the portal regularly for new opportunities to contribute to our community as they arise. We are in communication with U-M-Dearborn’s Office of Metropolitan Impact and U-M Flint’s Office of University Outreach, which are working to support and gather information on how you can connect to emerging needs in Metro Detroit and Flint, respectively.
We will update this page on a weekly basis, as circumstances continue to evolve.
The Ginsberg Center Team