Engaging U Newsletter - 11/14/12

Engagement Profile

Photo of Will Craig

In upcoming editions of Engaging U, we will feature University of Minnesota engagement units and centers. If you have suggestions for upcoming profiles, please contact Amber Cameron at acameron@umn.edu.

For this Engaging U spotlight, we meet Will Craig, Associate Director for the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA). In the interview below, Craig provides highlights of his office’s engagement work in the surrounding communities.

Describe the work of your office.

CURA is an all-University Center working to connect University faculty and students with the community for the benefit of both. We do this primarily by supporting applied University research projects and providing technical assistance to community organizations. Last year we supported 71 research projects involving faculty and graduate students from 12 different colleges and over 30 different departments and units. For details, see our recent Annual Report.

What is unique about CURA's work?

That’s tough, because it’s hard to choose, but I’m going to focus on our Community-Based Research projects because they are unique. Each semester we issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to community organizations, asking them to outline a research project that could help them achieve their mission. Winners are awarded 10 hrs/week of graduate student time for a full semester–195 hours. CURA works with the community organization to develop a job description, which is posted on the University website. Students apply directly to the community, and they pick the student that best suits their needs. We pay the student and publish the final report so other community organizations can benefit from it.

What kinds of outcomes do you expect?

CURA hopes that our community partners get a report that helps them advance their mission. Typically, the project helps them frame an issue or take action on an issue they already understand. In the process, we want them to grow their social capital. An example:

  • An early project in the Elliot Park and Loring Park neighborhoods of Minneapolis identified restorative justice as a way to combat nuisance crimes, a project that eventually convinced the courts to adopt this approach.

CURA expects most students working on projects such as this grow intellectually and professionally. Many individuals extolled their community-engaged experience, saying it was a highlight of their professional development.

For faculty projects, we expect an article in our CURA Reporter newsletter focused on issues relevant to the Minnesota public, including policy recommendations. We also expect them to turn their community-engaged work into professional publications that share the knowledge they have gained with the scientific community.

For more information on CURA and their engagement work visit: www.cura.umn.edu.

Updates and Announcements

Cover of Ten-Point Plan for Advancing and Institutionalizing Public Engagement at the University of Minnesota

CTS wins design award for engagement publication

The Center for Transportation Studies communications team has been awarded the 49th Annual American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design USA for their redesign of the layout for the University of Minnesota’s “A Ten-Point Plan for Advancing and Institutionalizing Public Engagement at the University of Minnesota.” Arlene Mathison, Director of Digital Information and Library Services and Cadie Adhikary, Graphic and Multimedia Designer for CTS led the redesign project. View the Ten-Point Plan (PDF).

Upcoming Events

Featured Resource

Cover of fall issue of Diversity and Democracy

The fall issue of the Association of American College and Universities’s (AAC&U) Diversity & Democracy highlights current research on the connections between civic engagement and student success. Contributing authors summarize research tying specific outcomes to civic engagement and provide recommendations for campus practitioners. Some of the programs they describe include Leveraging Multiple Degrees of Achievement, Linking High-Impact Learning with High-Impact Community Engagement, and The Impact of Civic Engagement on Psychosocial Well-being. This issue of Diversity & Democracy makes a strong argument for the positive relationship between students and the community. View the fall issue of Diversity & Democracy (PDF).

Call for Participation

Efforts are underway to open the doors of the new Minnesota African American Museum (MAAM) in Minneapolis. The museum staff is currently brainstorming ways to partner with U of M’s students, staff, and faculty in order to design opportunities specifically rooted in historic presentation, reference, and experience pertaining to Minnesota’s African American communities.

Among the opportunities being considered are: alternative spring break experiences that provide opportunities for students to engage in the making of a new museum; internship opportunities for graduate or undergraduate students to assist in the building of the museum's collections, exhibitions, archival development, artifact donation processes; organized opportunities to meet and interact with professionals in the museum field opportunities for faculty and graduate students to conduct research using the Museum’s artifacts and collections.

To coordinate the partnership activities across the Twin Cities campus, the University is establishing the “MAAM engagement hub”. This hub will bring together units and individuals interested in partnering with the museum to explore ideas and options for participation. If you are interested in developing a partnership with the Minnesota African American Museum or have questions about this opportunity, please contact Andy Furco at avp-ope@umn.edu by Tuesday, November 20th. The first meeting of the MAAM engagement hub will be held in early December.

The Museum will provide rich opportunities for engaging our faculty and staff, and students in the study of Minnesota’s African American history as well as provide students to explore the non-traditional field of museology.

Funding and Awards

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows (Deadline: November 14)
    An opportunity for midcareer health professionals and behavioral and social scientists with an interest in health and health care policy. Fellows participate in the policy process at the federal level and use that leadership experience to improve health, health care and health policy.
  • Healthy Food, Healthy Lives Community-University Partnership Grant (Deadline: November 19)
    Grants available to fund innovative community-university partnerships related to food, nutrition, and health. Projects should include action research, or other creative strategies to address community-identified problems. More information (PDF)
  • National Endowment for the Arts Our Town (Deadline: January 14)
    Organizations may apply for creative placemaking projects that contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core.

Call for Proposals and Papers

  • Community University Expo 2013: Engaging Shared Worlds (Deadline: November 15)
    A Canadian-led international conference designed to showcase best practices in community-university partnerships worldwide and to create opportunities for innovative and successful collaborations which strengthen our communities.


  • Course offering: PsTL 8010 Service Learning Pedagogy and Praxis (Spring 2013)
    This course will focus on understanding the history, theory, and practice of service-learning. Key concepts addressed in this class include: responsive community partnerships, the meaning of service, power and positionality in community-based learning, the role of reflection, critical pedagogy, social justice, civic learning, and experience design. For more information, contact Dr. Tania D. Mitchell (tmitchel@umn.edu).

If you have items you would like included in Engaging U, please send them to Amber Cameron (acameron@umn.edu)