Graduate Students and Faculty Share Civic Innovations (Video)

K. Jill Barr is senior assistant dean for graduate school enrollment management at UMBC.

K. Jill BarrHow does one go about creating and being the change we want to see in the world, as Gandhi suggested over 65 years ago? Graduate students and faculty at UMBC are answering the question through research designed to make a difference, classes organized to address civic challenges, and significant community projects in locales ranging from Baltimore to Kenya. The Graduate School is a key player in the BreakingGround initiative. At the recent Graduate Research Conference, a panel of graduate students and graduate faculty shared their civic experiences.

I love working with our graduate students as they become creative change agents on campus and beyond, and appreciate that they are connecting research, learning and action in immediately relevant and potentially life-altering ways. We’re all excited by their success.

Contact the author, K. Jill Barr, at jbarr@umbc.edu.

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Accessibility Hack Day

Sara Leidner, UMBC’s coordinator of student life for student organizations and involvement, is the chair of UMBCServes.

Sara Leidner 2BreakingGround Community Program Grants fund innovative educational projects related to social change developed by UMBC organizations and departments. The grants are an incentive to transform what might otherwise have been one-shot service opportunities into forums for the development of civic agency. The grants program is administered by UMBCServes, a group of UMBC staff and students supporting opportunities for applied learning and community engagement.

I’ve been talking to some of this year’s grant recipients, asking them to share their ideas and stories. This video features Shaun Kane, a member of UMBC’s faculty in Information Systems, who shares the excitement and momentum behind the upcoming Accessibility Hack Day (tentatively scheduled for April 5-7, 2013).

I’m looking forward to sharing more of my conversations with grant recipients in the coming weeks.

Contact the author, Sara Leidner, at sleidner@umbc.edu.

Community Program Grants Awarded, Next Deadline 2/15

Sara Leidner is coordinator for student organizations and involvement in UMBC’s Office of Student Life.

Sara LeidnerThe deadline to apply for BreakingGround Community Program Grants has been extended to February 15, 2013. All UMBC offices, departments and recognized student organizations are eligible for this award, funded by the Provost’s Office. Three innovative community projects have already received funding:

Accessibility Hack Day: UMBC’s Prototyping and Design Research Lab (Department of Information Systems) will engage students in a competition to develop and test ideas for making video games that are accessible to people with various disabilities. Participants in this daylong event on campus will form project groups, propose ideas, build prototypes and submit their designs to a panel of expert judges, including representatives from nonprofit organizations serving people with disabilities. The goal of the project is to spark students’ interest in developing innovative technical solutions for people with disabilities, not just in the context of voluntary service but in their careers in technology-related fields.

Community Arts Projects at UMBC Professional Development Schools: UMBC’s Teacher Education Unit (Department of Education) will support UMBC students aspiring to be teachers as they develop community arts projects with teachers, students and parents at selected local elementary schools (most of which serve families living at or below poverty level). The projects will be designed to deepen cultures of collaboration at each school site; increase UMBC students’ awareness of, and experience in, working with racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse populations; and enhance all parties’ awareness of the role of the arts in teaching, learning, and community building.

Food for Thought: The UMBC Graduate Student Association will work with local partner Food for Thought to address “food deserts”: urban neighborhoods in which residents face significant challenges in procuring healthy food. UMBC graduate students will teach young people in Pigtown/Washington Village about healthy choices, introduce them to the local community garden, help them plant container gardens of their own, provide cooking classes, and help them become advocates for themselves and their communities in connection with food issues. Participating graduate students will gain connections with each other and with community partners, reflect together on food justice issues, and consider how to integrate lessons from their experiences into their lives.

Contact the author, Sara Leidner, at sleidner@umbc.edu.

UMBC Civic Innovations @ Graduate Research Conference

Romy Jones, a doctoral student in UMBC’s Language, Literacy & Culture program, is Community Liaison for the Office of Graduate Student Life.

 Romy Jones (Square Photo)The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is hosting its 35th Annual Graduate Research Conference on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. This year’s main event is a civic engagement panel consisting of UMBC graduate students, faculty, and administrators. Panelists will discuss various efforts currently underway to foster civic engagement among UMBC graduate students, including graduate level courses featuring a community engagement component, GSA’s Food for Thought project, and Dr. Shaun Kane’s Accessibility Hack Day. These efforts aim to connect theory to practice and move from a paradigm of instruction to one of collaborative, experiential learning. This approach affords graduate students the ability to construct their own learning environments in and outside of the classroom and to reverse the shift from “disciplinary professionalism” to “civic professionalism.”

Meet your panelists:

Philip Rous, Provost
Jill Barr, Assistant Dean of Graduate Enrollment
Steve Bradley, Graduate Program Coordinator, Imaging and Digital Arts
Denise Merringolo, Associate Professor, History
Romy Jones, Graduate Student, Language, Literacy and Culture
Dorothy Alexander, Graduate Student, History
Charlotte Keniston, Graduate Student, Imaging and Digital Arts
Shaun Kane, Assistant Professor, Human Centered Computing

For conference registration, please complete this form:  http://form.jotform.us/form/22914362757156. The civic engagement panel will be featured from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. You are welcome to join us for lunch at 1:00 p.m..

Contact the author, Romy Jones, at rjones12@umbc.edu.