Community engagement during COVID-19
The VT Engage team appreciates many of you reaching out to check in about community partners’ needs as well as for advice on how to move forward with your community-engaged courses in light of Virginia Tech’s transition to distance education.
While many of your partnerships and your students’ projects haven’t been fully actualized yet, it is still possible to have a successful semester with your community partner. By moving away from transactional thinking regarding these projects, and moving towards more of a relationship, you and your partners can begin to reconsider this semester’s work, and also plan for future semesters’ opportunities.
As a next step, please check in with your partner(s) to ask how they are doing. Ask if there is a way your class can still support them by modifying your current project or if they have other needs that your students can potentially assist with. This is also an opportunity to engage students in reflection on their semester so far and how the current crisis is affecting the U.S. social safety net.
Many other institutions have compiled detailed and helpful resources, so we wanted to uplift their good work. Please visit the following sites and resources as you consider your next steps.
- IUPUI's Center for Service & Learning: "Continuing community engaged teaching during COVID-19"
- IUB’s Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning: “Community Engaged Teaching during Suspension of Face-to-Face Classes”
- Campus Compact’s “Coronavirus and the Engaged Campus”
The following topics from the Center for Civic Reflection may be relevant prompts for reflection:
- Courage in Everyday Life
- What are our responsibilities as citizens? Who or what are we responsible for?
- How should we respond to crisis?
- Is crisis a destructive force or an opportunity for renewal?
As for community partners' needs in our region, the United Way of the New River Valley is in the process of compiling a list of needs on this page.
Questions or concerns?
Please contact Catherine Cotrupi at email@example.com or 540-231-9186. She is happy to assist in thinking through options for you, your students, and your partners.
Connecting your course to community
The VT Engage team is available to provide assistance to instructors who teach courses with a community learning component in a variety of ways:
- Consulting with faculty on course design and syllabus development,
- Facilitating faculty and student connections with community partners, and
- Developing orientation, reflection, and assessment strategies that enhance the impact of community engaged learning on the student experience.
For more information, or to arrange a consultation, contact Meghan Weyrens Kuhn, Interim Director, at 540-231-1356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The national programs listed below maintain links to assist faculty in course planning, syllabus development, student reflection strategies, and assessment approaches.