One of the great opportunities at a top tier research university is to be part of a community that is constantly seeking to know, striving to ask the hard questions and, at times, struggling to find the right answers. In this environment, there can certainly be at least a mild crisis effect in these efforts, at times some high-minded expression of the process and the access and the difficulties in finding just the right mix of ingredients to make the work…well…work. Is there enough funding? Is there enough time? Is it grounded in a cross-disciplinary approach? Where can we find the right mix of research participants and how can we know we’re doing right by them?
Last week, we had the distinct privilege of hosting Patti Clayton here at Lehigh for a few days of professional development workshops. Delving into day-long exploratory sessions, we discussed a wide range of issues facing the field of service-learning and civic/community engagement (SLCE). Much of what we discussed focused on understanding and addressing the continuum of service learning and community/civic-engaged work from technocratic (doing service “for”) to democratic (partnering around service “with”).
Lehigh stands at a crossroads in this regard.