Dr. Patti Clayton, well-known Service-Learning Scholar wrote “The Power of Little Words” emphasizing the importance of the word “with” when considering the creation of community partnerships. The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) focuses on creating opportunities “with” community partners regardless of who they may be. OCE staff practice what has been termed “withness” or working in tandem with (as opposed to “doing to”) a particular partner.
For example, OCE staff may become aware of a particular need within a community or of a particular faculty member. Instead of formulating the course and having pre-conceived notions of what needs to occur within that course, community partners are invited to meet with faculty and OCE staff to discuss the opportunities for collaboration. Often, it is at these initial meetings that new ideas are generated and even better service-learning experiences emerge.
The development of service-learning classes at Coe is a collaborative, interactive process which, when done with purpose, creates measurable learning outcomes for all parties.