Council Challenged to Link Research, Economic Development; SCOPE Students Report on ESC Presentations

  • December 5th, 2013
  • in News
Dr. Melanie Miller updates the CCBP Council on the progress of SCOPE and the outstanding performance of SCOPE members at ESC 2013.

By Kirsten J. Barnes

At the Center for Community-Based Partnerships Council meeting at the Bryant Conference Center on November 14, members heard a discussion about several community outreach projects, listened as students discussed the research they presented at the 2013 Engagement Scholarship Consortium October 8–9 at Texas Tech University, and saw videos of the 2013 Magrath Award winners.

Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, opened the meeting with a discussion of the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Award recipients. Although UA did not win an award, Pruitt highlighted the program in an effort to educate the group on the types of projects recognized and to motivate the group for future entries.

“For the first time they gave an award to institutions who used engaged scholarship to initiate programs with direct links to economic development,” Pruitt said, adding that the state is pushing higher education institutions to conduct more research in the area of economic development. “I’m interested in supporting efforts that fall into this category.”

Although the Magrath Awards are judged during the Engagement Scholarship Consortium conference, they are presented at the Associate of Public and Land-Grant Universities annual meeting, held this year Nov. 10-12 in Washington, D.C.

“Another award given for the very first time was for institutions who made a concerted effort to increase graduation rates for under-represented students,” Pruitt said. The winner in this category was Georgia State University.

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Graduate student Anna-Margaret Yarbrough describes the research she presented at ESC 2013 to members of the CCBP Council.

Following this presentation, Dr. Melanie Miller, director of student and community engagement, discussed the presentations from Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership, and Engagement (SCOPE) students at the ESC conference.

SCOPE was formed nearly three years ago, but has taken on new framework and increased momentum over the past year.

“We are really excited about the progress that this group is making,” Miller said. “This year we have 32 members. They are undergraduates and graduates, and include first semester freshmen to those in the last year of their Ph.D. and from all disciplines.”

The students are all involved in community-based research at some level and this year 17 SCOPE students attended ESC, making presentations alongside nationally recognized scholars.

Four students who attended the conference discussed their experience.

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Zachary Wahl-Alexander describes to the CCBP Council his research poster presentation at ESC 2013

Anna-Margaret Yarbrough described her research on “how we can better engage with community partners,” adding that it was refreshing to meet so many students from other schools working on engaged scholarship. “I felt so fortunate being a part SCOPE knowing that I have the support of faculty and staff.”

Yarbrough recently had a manuscript accepted by the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, published at UA.

Adriane Sheffield, a third year doctoral student in educational psychology and ESC Fellow, presented for the second year at the conference, this time twice. She presented a poster presentation Navigating the “Space Between” in a Community-Based Partnership” with Ryan Alverson, Cody Carter, Cecil Robinson and Brittney Brown. And she conducted a workshop Connection Instruction, Professional Development and Student Achievement: Partnering for Change,” with Dr. Sandra Colley Nichols of UA’s College of Education and Dr. Elizabeth Davis of the Tuscaloosa Public Schools System.

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SCOPE fellow Adriane Sheffield addresses the CCBP Council about her research and the importance of the SCOPE organization to young scholars.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of SCOPE,” Sheffield said. “It allows me to focus on my passion, which is engaged research. I have become a cheerleader for SCOPE in the College of Education.”

The University of Alberta in Canada will host the 2014 ESC and Dr. Katy Campbell, dean and professor of Extension Faculty at the University of Alberta, will be the keynote speaker at the CCBP Awards program scheduled for April 18, 2014.

Additionally, Dr. Sherry Nichols of the College of Education made a presentation on creating a Makerspace Coalition in Tuscaloosa. Makerspaces allow people to come together to create things using tools provided by those working in the space. They can be anything from sewing and quilting spaces to painting and woodwork.

“They try to bring in tools that people may not have ready access to,” Nichols said, adding that she plans to partner with the Tuscaloosa Public Library to create a Makerspace that will teach students about bugs.

Finally, there was discussion regarding the charge of the 2013-14 UA Carnegie Reclassification Team to come up with a systematic way to collect data related to engagement.

“Our application is only going to be as good as the information we receive from you’ll,” Pruitt said. “Carnegie focuses on how institutions engage the community. We need to decide how we systematically come up with a way to collect this information.”