Communities of Practice

Applications for this year’s Communities of Practice are now open.

Deadline extended!! Apply by September 30, 2020.

Ilinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin Campus Compact are offering Communities of Practice (CoPs) to enhance individuals’ capacity to do community engagement work in higher education; identify resources, research findings, program models, insights, etc., benefit a broader network; and build the field’s knowledge about CoPs as a model for professional development.

CoPs bring together professionals who share a common concern or passion and want to learn how to advance that passion together through regular shared interaction. The members of a community of practice share a domain of interest, engage in joint activities and have an ongoing, sustained interaction over time contributing to their shared practice. CoPs can serve varied functions, including solving problems, sharing information, providing experience, utilizing shared assets, coordinating and strategizing, building a case for action, documenting projects, mapping knowledge, gaining confidence, and more. (Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015)


CoPs will take place online and will include participants from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin with 8-12 participants each, led by two co-chairs from the field, formed around a specific issue in higher education community and civic engagement.

These CoPs will meet six times over the course of the academic year. Each CoP meeting will be 90 minutes long and take place via Zoom web video conference call.


CoPs are open to faculty, staff, administrators, and community partners affiliated with Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin Campus Compact member campuses. Campus Compact operates on the belief that regardless of formal role, we all have valuable knowledge to share and learning to do. The CoPs are designed to leverage connections and open conversations that might not otherwise occur. Those interested in participating will complete a very short application, to be reviewed by the Campus Compact staff.

2020-2021 Communities of Practice

This CoP delves into strategies and best practices for facilitating the professional development of engaged faculty, be they tenured or adjunct, novice or experienced, or from large R1s to small liberal arts colleges. Participants will dive deeply into engaged faculty research based on their collective interests, which may include such topics as faculty motivations and commitments to community-engaged scholarship (CES), strategies for programming and support of CES and community-engaged learning (CEL) courses for different faculty (career stage, experience level, discipline/field, etc.), and critical approaches to ethical, responsible, and equitable CES and CEL. Participants will be encouraged to share examples of their past work and reflect about their contributions to engaged faculty development on their campuses and beyond. Participants will review the different competencies related to engaged faculty development as espoused by “The Community Engagement Professional” edited by Lina Dostilio (2017). The intention is for this experience to align with the micro-credential for engaged faculty development should participants choose to pursue it outside of the CoP.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Participants will identify three or more concrete ways to improve their practice of supporting and facilitating engaged faculty development based on evidence and experiences.
  2. Participants will practice deep, ongoing, critical reflection of their methods for supporting and facilitating engaged faculty development as an individual and as part of an institution.
  3. Participants will form a sustained relationship with at least one other peer from a different institution.

Product Outcomes:

For those who have the desire, participants will be prepared to submit for the Community Partnership micro-credential if they so choose. The facilitator believes that, regardless of micro-credential submission, the opportunity to reflect on their practice and learn from research and their peers is valuable in and of itself.


  • Alyssa Melby, Assistant Director for Academic Civic Engagement, St. Olaf College
  • Emily Shields, Executive Director, Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact

Schedule: Second Wednesday of each month from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Dec. 9, Jan. 13, Feb. 10, Mar. 10)

This CoP will invite participants to learn about models for integrating digital components into civic engagement projects and to develop individual project plans in a supportive environment.

Digital civic engagement offers both exciting possibilities and challenges for campus-community partnerships. Digital tools, like blogs, maps, archives, videos, and exhibits, can facilitate broader community participation in projects, wider public engagement with scholarship, and new perspectives on pressing social issues. In the context of COVID-19, digital tools may be especially valuable when immersive community engagement may not be possible. Yet, digital civic engagement projects also pose challenges around communication, ethics, sustainability, and how to manage projects that may combine direct engagement with the digital. Establishing clear frameworks for campus-community partnerships, understanding and selecting appropriate digital tools, and developing a project management plan to provide support and sustainability for the project are all especially important when there may be fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction.

We anticipate that participants in this CoP will arrive with experience in civic engagement and have a community or campus partner in mind for a potential digital project. The CoP does not require knowledge of specific digital tools or experience with digital projects. The CoP’s primary focus will be on projects that can involve students and that are developed in collaboration with a partner or shared with the public.

The CoP will focus on trust among participants. The group will chart its specific path, based on the needs and desires of the CoP, but we have outlined possible themes for the sessions:

  • Laying a Foundation: Participants can engage case studies that illustrate potential models of digital civic engagement. Through this session, participants may focus on a potential project of their own or a hypothetical example they can continue to develop throughout the CoP.
  • Ethics: We can discuss the ethical concerns that arise in digital spaces (including questions surrounding accessibility and inclusivity, data use and privacy, copyright and fair use, and invisible labor).
  • Community Building: We can focus on the challenges and opportunities inherent to building community remotely. How do partners develop relationships and trust from afar?
  • Teaching: We can probe digital civic engagement as part of student learning and development strategies.
  • Resource Mapping: It is helpful to map campus and community resources, no matter a participant’s institutional type or individual position within their institution.
  • Sustainability and Preservation: Creating sustainability plans for projects is helpful, when projects need maintenance, updating, or are time-specific.

We hope that throughout the CoP, participants will develop a project plan and will come away with next steps.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Gain a broad overview and inspiration for potential digital projects.
  2. Develop a basic understanding of the ethical and design questions surrounding digital projects.
  3. Identify resources and consider ways that a digital project can be sustained and could be structured into teaching and impact goals

Product Outcomes:

  1. Create an initial proposal for a digital civic engagement project. This proposal will include a project charter identifying stakeholders as well as the campus collaborators and technical infrastructures necessary to implement the project.
  2. Develop a peer network for support and learning.


  • Paul Schadewald, Senior Program Director, Community-Based Learning and Scholarship, Macalester College
  • Aisling Quigley, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Digital Liberal Arts, Macalester College

Schedule: Second Friday of each month from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (Oct. 9, Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Feb. 12, Mar. 12, Apr. 16)

This CoP will ask how contemplative practices can help us understand the challenges of the present moment and apply our insights to strengthen our individual and institutional work at a time of tremendous and unnerving change.

Our schools and our communities, more than ever, need us to be comfortable and functional with rapid change and an unusually high degree of uncertainty. We all need to be able to lead throughout our organizations, regardless of our positions: to mentor, teach and support students, but also to provide ballast for our peer colleagues and even to manage up, helping the decision-makers connect to the most resilient character of our respective institutions – rather than responding, as often happens, to the most anxious and fearful voices and impulses.

When we drive past the truism that academics are particularly resistant to change, we can perceive the tensions between expertise, which relies on a considerable stock of past experiences, and adaptability, which needs us not to cling too tightly or adamantly to previous practice, even when that means letting go of what has succeeded before.

In this CoP, we will consider what our communities most need from us and what we most need: the sources from which we draw sustenance, the projects and activities that speak to us. We will reflect on our sense of purpose and how it can guide us through these times that call on all of us to be actively engaged in healing, protecting, and advocating for our communities, and that require us to step outside of our normal grooves. We will explore the tensile relationship between change and resilience, the ways in which change can expand rather than threaten or diminish us.

Individual sessions will be organized around a series of exercises and activities that will provide food for thought and experimentation from month to month, with reflection along the way about what has been productive and meaningful for each of us. Sessions will draw on the work of thinkers such as Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Generous Thinking), Paul Froese (On Purpose: How We Create the Meaning of Life), Brendan Ozawa de Silva (Associate Director at Emory’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics), and Parker Palmer (The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal). We will invite participants to suggest materials as well.

We will share conceptual frameworks and practical strategies that can help us understand the present moment, even in the din of panic and partisanship; perceive multiple possible paths forward; and make choices that fit the needs, capacities and potential of ourselves, our programs or departments, our students, our institutions, and our larger communities.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Using reflective practices as support for purpose identification, change navigation, and resilience building, participants will:
  2. Identify relevant concepts from reading and discussion on reflection, purpose, change, and resilience.
  3. Discern which concepts are most appropriate for the variety of situations we find ourselves trying to manage during this time.
  4. Apply, practice, and refine concepts useful to our own work with students, colleagues, our institutions, and ourselves.

Product Outcomes:

  1. Construct a menu of high-impact reflective exercises, activities, and conceptual frameworks to draw on and share with others.
  2. Develop a multi-campus support network during a complicated, challenging year, a “safe space” for discussion, reflection, and planning.


  • Gina Hausknecht, John William King Professor of Literature and Creative Writing, Coe College
  • Margaret Kelly, Senior Teaching Specialist, Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota

Schedule: Second Friday of each month from 9:00 to 10:30 am (Oct. 9, Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Jan. 8, Feb. 12, Mar. 12)

Many models of developing university and community partnerships have focused mainly on the benefits to universities at the expense of communities. This Community of Practice will explore the emerging model of place-based community engagement that emphasizes authentic relationships that lead to projects that are mutually beneficial. This model also challenges partnerships to look at the current social/political arrangements that lead to social inequality and develop strategies to address these inequalities. The book “Placed-Based Community Engagement In Higher Education: A Strategy to Transform Universities and Communities” by Erica K. Yamamura and Kent Koth (2018) will help guide this Community of Practice to think deeply about this approach and develop strategies to implement ideas into their various contexts.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Participants will develop an understanding of the methodology of place-based community engagement.
  2. Participants will explore the importance of developing partnerships that work towards social justice.
  3. Participants will create strategies to implement aspects of a place-based approach in their specific contexts.

Product Outcomes:

Participants will develop an action plan on implementing principles and methods of the place-based approach into their specific context.


  • Tanden Brekke, Assistant Director of Community Engagement and Service-Learning, Bethel University
  • Melvin Giles, Co-facilitator of the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance
  • Sandie McNeel, Professor Emeritus, Bethel University

Schedule: Second Friday of each month from 10:00 to 11:30 am (Oct. 9, Nov. 13, Dec. 11, Feb. 12, March 12, April 9)

This community of practice will focus on the professional development of community-engaged researchers. Together, we will reflect on our own research practice and explore how to create policy change from Community-Based Participatory Research. This will include critically examining our partnerships and how they do and do not serve the best interests of our communities. Folks working within a community-based organization are especially encouraged to participate.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Describe ways for CBPR researchers to expand their CBPR skillset and research skills
  2. Create strategies for CBPR Researchers to unite with community partners to translate their research findings into policy change


  • Laura Palombi, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota – College of Pharmacy
  • Kara Trebil-Smith, Program Manager for Community Impact, Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact

Schedule: The second Tuesday of each month from 2:00 to 3:30 pm (Oct. 13, Nov. 10, Dec. 8, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, April 13)

This Community of Practice will focus on how a central office for community engagement can develop strategic initiatives that support a network of community-engaged programs, departments and offices. Often in higher education community engagement work is decentralized and a central office serves as a coordinator of efforts rather than the center of the work. The discussion will focus on best practices for supporting networks of community engagement across campus, new strategic initiatives that could be developed on campus for network support, how to include community partners in the building and establishing of networks, and the importance of equity and inclusion in building community engagement networks.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Participants will understand existing and new potential players important in a community engagement network of programs, departments, and offices.
  2. Participants will be able to describe and implement best practices for building the capacity of a community-engaged network on campus.

Product Outcomes:

  • Participant-generated maps of their campus community engagement networks
  • A curated list of network mapping tools, facilitation strategies, readings, and resources


  • Julianne Gassman, Director and Professor, Office of Community Engagement, University of Northern Iowa
  • Jane Turk, Director of Member Engagement and Minnesota Operations, Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact

Schedule: Second Wednesday of each month from 10:00 to 11:30 am (Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Dec. 9, Jan. 13, Feb. 10, Mar. 10)

This CoP will explore how the seemingly independent practices of service-learning and social entrepreneurship have evolved over time into the broader movements of civic engagement and social innovation. Although unified by complementary desires for teaching students how to address social problems, community engagement scholars have raised many concerns regarding competing, or even incompatible, differences between the two movements (McBride & Mlyn, 2015; McBride & Mlyn, 2016; Schnaubelt & Smith, 2013; Scobey, 2020; Welch, 2016). However, the facilitators of this CoP believe social change requires many strategies and that a broader approach to teaching students about social change is necessary for developing the skills needed for engaged citizenship, social problem solving, and catalytic thinking and doing.

Employing a Design Thinking approach, this COP will engage participants in hands-on activities that lead to pragmatic applications of community-engaged learning and social innovation on their campuses. We will read and discuss the new book by Amanda Moore McBride and Eric Mlyn, “Connecting Civic Engagement & Social Innovation: Toward Higher Educations Democratic Purpose” along with other sources, hear from guest speakers both in and outside of higher education to spark and inform discussions,, and prototype broader models of civic engagement and social innovation that can be piloted on college campuses.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Articulate the definition and evolution and of the civic engagement and social innovation movements in higher ed.
  2. Identify opportunities for aligning civic engagement and social innovation efforts on your own campus.
  3. Develop prototypes of a broader model of social change education that could be piloted on your campus.

Product Outcomes:

  1. Participant created lists of civic engagement and social innovation efforts on their campus
  2. Prototypes of broader civic engagement and social innovation models that could be piloted on college campuses.


  • Renee Sedlacek Lee, Director of Community Engaged Learning, Drake University, Iowa
  • Mark Gesner, Executive Director of the Hub for Innovation and Community Engaged Learning, Cardinal Stritch University, Wisconsin

Schedule: Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:30 pm (Oct. 29, Nov. 19, Dec. 10, Jan. 28, Feb. 18, Mar. 18)

This Community of Practice will explore the roles of service, research and curriculum, and advocacy in addressing the growing crisis of food insecurity in higher education settings. Approaching food insecurity as a systemic problem, this CoP will consider how engagement with community food systems can serve as an entry point to both improving student retention and success rates as well as fulfilling the public purpose of higher education.

Food insecurity among college students has garnered increased local and national attention in recent years. According to the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, as many as two-thirds of college students experience food insecurity. Advocates of this work have pointed out that food insecurity poses a significant barrier to educational equity. Unmet basic needs encumber students’ capacity to successfully engage in both their programs of study and their campus communities. Efforts to address food insecurity on campus have been largely student-driven. Most programs, ranging from food recovery to campus food shelves, to meal plan swipe share programs, lack significant buy-in from university leadership. Support from staff and faculty has been mostly ad hoc, with individuals learning about the need from students and working to support their efforts without compensation or other institutional backing.

This CoP will examine extant food access strategies with a focus on identifying how staff, faculty, and community practitioners can build the infrastructure to produce greater collaboration and sustainability in these efforts. We will consider how on-campus efforts, such as campus gardens, dining services, food pantries, meal swipe programs, and composting, can partner and share resources with community-based programs, like food banks and food recovery systems, in order to build more equitable community food systems.

This CoP will follow students’ lead in identifying food access as a social justice issue spanning beyond individual institutions of higher education. We will aim to build the collective capacity to support efforts in our institutional and community settings as well as in our broader network to build systems and cultures of “student readiness” that acknowledge and affirm students’ lived experiences and capacity to engage in their studies and communities.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Develop an understanding of how food insecurity manifests in higher education settings and affects student experiences as well as institutional retention and success rates
  2. Develop plans to address food insecurity through service, research and curriculum, and advocacy approaches
  3. Map extant food access efforts on campus and in the community and identify strategies and tactics to support and expand student-led efforts
  4. Explore the role of partnerships and networks in establishing greater efficacy and sustainability in food access work and begin building this infrastructure at institutions/in local settings
  5. Plan for long-term solutions to the crisis of student hunger that establish greater collaboration and capacity between campus- and community-driven efforts

Product Outcomes:

  1. Campus network of folks committed to addressing food insecurity
  2. Checklist for student-centered Campus Food Access


  • Susi Keefe — Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences and Sociology and Director of Center for Justice and Law, Hamline University
  • Valentine Cadieux — Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of Sustainability, Hamline University

Schedule: Third Friday of each month from 9:30 to 11:00 am (Oct. 16, Nov. 20, Dec. 18, Jan. 15, Feb. 19, Mar. 19)

With a presidential election and the 2020 Census, 2020 has been a busy year of voter registration, voter engagement, census education, and census participation. With both the election and the census ending in the Fall, what do we do with the momentum created by these large national events? How do we respond to the outcome of the elections? What are campuses doing to engage with the community partners that were instrumental in their voter and census engagement work past November? This CoP will focus on giving participants the opportunity to share ideas, plans, and strategies they build on their work from 2020 to prepare for future engagement. In this COP, participants will consider what the community needs, the campus needs, and our students need so that we can continue the engagement sparked by the intensity of 2020.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Participants will identify student engagement opportunities past the presidential election and how to keep students engaged between elections
  2. Participants will discuss strategies for dealing with the impact of the 2020 election and the 2020 census.
  3. Participants will explore the opportunities for continued civic engagement including advocacy around the redistricting, working with elected officials, and supporting student dialogue.

Product Outcomes:

  1. Participants will create one or two action items that they will work toward on their campus to institutionalize voter and civic engagement
  2. Connect CoP participants with other institutions doing similar or aspirational work


  • Ryan Drysdale, Associate Director, ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge
  • Karla Huffman, Civic Engagement Faculty Coordinator, Heartland Community College

Schedule: Second Friday of each month from 10:00 to 11:30 am (Nov. 20, Dec. 11, Feb. 5, Mar. 5, Apr. 9, May 7)

Apply Here by September 30, 2020.