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Best Practices

We asked both faculty and staff for ideas on best practices in civic engagement. The responses include numerous activities worthy of further implementation.

Q. What has been your most successful civic engagement teaching practice? Please share any insights you think might help other faculty members.

Responses – Undergraduate Faculty

  1. My America Reads Program - trains college students as elementary literacy tutors.
  2. Having a student work with a roommate to change a health behavior and keep a log of the problems and results.
  3. A community project in SWO 302 has taken a real social problem and encouraged students to examine ways to solve that problem by using the entire community system.
  4. "Civic engagement teaching practices" -- difficult for me to think of my teaching practices in this way. My teaching practices are just teaching practices.
  5. a course in evaluation of federal social policies
  6. students are required to address social issues that relate to the implementation of leisure services in the private and public sectors.
  7. Group problem solving of hypothetical situations. The situations are based upon contemporary issues. In the discussion, the facts surrounding actual incidents are then revealed to the group(s)
  8. To be determined at the end of fall/03. Students will present their research finding to the community in the inner city on 12/2/03. Plans are to invite the press, City Hall, & United Way.
  9. I encourage students to vote every semester outright--we have a discussion about why this is important and what kinds of current (local/national) topics will be decided through the voting process and what impact this has.
  10. Working on a class project involving software development as a TEAM. Also, working on a real-world software development project as a team (part of a directed study).
  11. Group discussions of questions raised by students from readings in women's studies.
  12. Dividing my students up into groups and making them responsible for researching an issue and then sharing with their colleagues the result of their research.
  13. Debates
  14. Critiques (public speaking) Group class collaborations (ongoing) Individual viewpoints expressed during critiques Outside exhibition of work
  15. Community project investigations that include talking to community resources (agencies, people, etc.) to determine current conditions, what is being done, deficit areas, and suggestions on making improvement.
  16. Having students describe and reflect on the ethical teaching practices related to teaching and learning in the schools.
  17. Leadership, responsibility and collaborative learning take place in my classes, where there is always a group presentation project (CMC 219 and CMC 316). Groups must meet on their own and come up with a complex and creative project that they then present to the entire class. The assignments take place over several weeks; group members must look after their own people and reign them back in if they stray.
  18. In the past, requiring students to investigate local ordinances in their hometowns. Recently my exercises deal with discussing laws and their enforcement, as well as criminal prosecution. The machinations of these processes are central to our vision of democracy and governance.
  19. student activism project -- students volunteer for an activist organization and reflect on what they learned about the experience and how it relates to course material
  20. Encouraging students to develop their own informed opinions and inviting diverse viewpoints in class discussion. Three of my courses are relevant to First Amendment freedoms; I try to emphasize the significance of civic engagement in realizing freedom of expression and in maintaining a "marketplace of ideas."

Responses - Professional Staff

  1. Students always work in groups to present an issue in their reading assignment to the class as a whole; conduct independent research on an issue in diversity and present this to the class; are encouraged to seek out articles on issues on diversity and write about them.
  2. I have students research a current issue and then present it WITH SOLUTIONS they think should be implemented
  3. I will be teaching the course for the first time in spring - answers above are based on the syllabus I am preparing and experience of others who have taught the course.
  4. Assignment on the current status of education in the United States. We discuss and then write about current issues in education.
  5. Service Learning

We also asked a related question of faculty and staff in order to learn about some of their more creative and noteworthy community service activities. The responses demonstrate an active and engaged campus.

Q. What do you consider your most original or noteworthy community service/civic engagement activity?

Responses – Undergraduate Faculty

  1. America Reads Brockport Career Exploration Course - thousands of hours are donated each year to a wide variety of non-profit and public organizations.
  2. volunteering participation in local governance voting
  3. Evaluator of a local drug court
  4. Serving in our faculty senate serving on college committees occasionally opening my home for student piano recitals
  5. I helped Buffalo Philharmonic develop an IS strategy about 10 years ago. It helped them gain control of the business operations.
  6. Students write letters to federal/state officials advocating improved social policies
  7. March for Education on Albany on May 3, 2003
  8. Students are required to provide leisure services in area recreation and leisure departments
  9. Keeping current with the actions of my elected officials and informing them when I feel they are not representing my perspective. Working with international youth groups and facilitating their interaction. Relating what in-class discussion to real world activity.
  10. In one of my classes I ask students to gather information about the kinds of community agencies that exist to promote quality of life for both general community residents and those who are more susceptible to social problems.
  11. 1. Getting my students to work together to solve real-world technology-related problems. 2. Working, and in fact, providing leadership for my local ethnic community group and its interface with the larger community in Rochester.
  12. President of the Faculty Senate Board of Susan B. Anthony House
  13. Offered workshop to minority city youth during summer to teach them radio production skills, used college students as teaching assistants. Improved college/city school district relations.
  14. I volunteer as an official for Olympic & non-Olympic athletic competitions. I work on Saturday a month at a community food bank.
  15. Debates
  16. Exhibitions within the college community and the greater community. Workshops extended to the great community
  17. In the 1980's I helped bring the VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program) to the Brockport Campus. Unfortunately, the program, sponsored by the IRS, no longer exists.
  18. A. Volunteer for the City of Rochester Drug Summit activities. B. Assist the County of Monroe on the Commission to review public safety services. C. Variety of civic engagement volunteer, research and project management.
  19. Local government internships state government internships
  20. Special Director of STANYS--editor of journal for organization
  21. The electoral campaign paper, described in #4 above.
  22. Exercise referenced above was in a course dealing with gun control and gun laws. Students were to investigate and report on the existence of firearms ordinances in their hometowns.
  23. Was arrested for protesting the war during a pray in at the federal building coordinated and led an interfaith world AIDS day service at my church working with the Baptist peace fellowship of north America and the Liberian Baptist peace fellowship
  24. In one class I assign students to read and come to class prepared to discuss two speeches that directly pertain to civic engagement: George William Curtis "The Public Duty of Educated Men" (1877) and Tony Kushner's Vassar College Commencement speech (2002). These two speeches from two different historical periods work well together and easily spark student participation in the discussion.


Responses - Professional Staff

  1. Volunteer work
  2. Volunteering Educating students/citizens on American and world politics Educating students/citizens on various world religions
  3. Multiple course sequencing of service learning activities, to provide sustainability to communities and long-term projects
  4. Public Protests against administration policies in Iraq (peace marches) women's center events
  5. Make a Difference Day
  6. Working with the cub scouts
  7. Mentoring.
  8. Social action through religious community
  9. Personally, my husband and I are both very involved in community service. We volunteer on a regular basis. My activities are as follows: 1) For St. Mary's Catholic School in Canandaigua, NY I created, organized and implemented a Volunteer Program to promote "volunteering" among the 150 families that attend the school. 2) For St. Mary's School in Canandaigua, NY I serve on the School Advisory Council, an advisement group assisting the school administrators. 3) For the Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra I am a volunteer cellist with the group that performs 6 concerts per year. I also serve as their public relations volunteer. 4) For the Victor Merchants Association, I am an active member in the planning and implementation of local business projects. 5) On a regular basis I provide presentations to area civic organizations like Business Network International, Rochester Professional Consultants Network, Chamber of Commerce, Rochester Women's Network, the SBA and other related groups. Topics include access to capital, small business development, financing and strategic planning. 6) I am also an active member at the Victor Free library. 7) Not only am I a staff member, but am also a business owner, who has brought to the SUNY College at Brockport a research project for the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies to examine the utilization of model trains as a therapeutic recreational intervention. Dr. Newman and Dr. Udd have taken on our request to study this topic. Our business currently provides Therapeutic Railroading installations in group homes for those with cognitive disabilities. I am now promoting and fund raising for the college to fund this study. It's a good example of how business and the academic community should work together to solve problems. This study will open an entirely new opportunity for the college and provide long-term exposure to the recreation industry.
  10. Voting in every election at all levels of government 2) active volunteer with a variety of non-profit organizations locally and even internationally for over 25 years
  11. Past direct involvement in local community government.
  12. Community Mentoring Project Make A Difference Day
  13. Museum Board of Directors Photo Clubs Vice President
  14. My family published an "underground" small town newsletter for many years dealing with local issues that were not being covered adequately in our local paper. Our kids grew up researching and writing for this paper.
  15. Boy Scouts
  16. Brockport Food Shelf Habitat for Humanity Senior Citizen Assistance (Meals on Wheels, etc.)
  17. Requiring community service for students who violate the Codes of Student Conduct.
  18. Teaching high school Sunday school serving as a youth advisor for church youth group
  19. Worked at the SUNY Brockport booth at the Brockport Arts and Crafts Festival Worked at SUNY Brockport’s MOVE-IN DAYS Made baby blankets for the family our department adopted for Helping Hands.
  20. Volunteer fireman 2. Town Disaster committee
  21. Service Learning

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