Adjunct Professor Catholic Theology and Ethics
Like many faculty who integrate community engagement into their teaching, I find it easy to surround myself with people who pat me on the back and cite research that supports my pedagogy. Studies have shown and my own experience has confirmed the potential of experiential education to transform students. And through community based teaching, I have found true co-educators who share my passion for forming students to be agents of social change—at least when they graduate. But is it enough for educators to plant seeds for future change when the demand for social justice is now? I have been wrestling with this question since attending Randy Stoecker’s workshop on community engaged scholarship. Stoecker’s approach prioritizes social change over student learning—a reversal that I find both invigorating and unsettling for my work at the University of San Francisco.
Perhaps my most important take away from the workshop was Stoecker’s challenge to think about who does the labor of research and teaching in a university/ community partnership. I have taken for granted that reciprocity—the hallmark principle of community based learning—has guided my efforts. But so often the community does the labor—providing research questions and data; offering student learning opportunities and supervision. Stoecker challenges faculty to take the responsibility for the labor, using our training to generate knowledge-power in the community and inviting students into that exciting process.