Campus Theme 2013–14 Community Engagement

Doug Clark, Ferrum College vice president for administration, speaking to participants at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Assassination, held last November in conjunction with fall semester Campus Theme events.

Doug Clark, Ferrum College vice president for administration, speaking to participants at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Assassination, held last November in conjunction with fall semester Campus Theme events.

Each year, Ferrum College has an academic theme. The subject is integrated into a series of lectures, events, film, and academic courses. Responsibility for the theme rotates among the three Schools: Arts & Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences and Professional Studies.

The theme for the 2013–2014 year is “Sustaining Community Engagement,” as created by the School of Social Sciences and Professional Studies. This theme gives students, faculty, staff, and local community members the opportunity to consider the meaning and impact of community engagement from two different perspectives. First, there will be many opportunities to experience Ferrum’s vision of true community engagement. Second, everyone involved will learn about the planning and processes that sustain successful community engagement.

The School of Social Sciences and Professional Studies houses, among other things, The Center for Community Engagement. The term “community engagement” for both the ongoing Center and this year’s academic theme refers to connections between the College’s students, faculty, and staff and the larger community of which the College is a part. Engagement opportunities exist at the local level with such projects as stream cleanups and support of local food banks, at the state level with programs such as the Mobile Justice Tour, and at the regional level with perspectives on life and protection of natural resources in Appalachia. At the national and international levels, community engagement is seen in the sponsorship of programs to support voluntary organ donation, camps for children with cancer, and educational programs in Africa.

The challenge for all community engagement activities, however, remains how best to actually sustain them and maintain their energy and spirit across generations of college students. This year’s theme focuses on both the specific engagement activity and on consideration of the challenges to maintaining that engagement over time.

One recent event held on campus was the Mobile Justice Tour, co-sponsored by the criminal justice major program, which discussed the topic of mass incarceration and the issues related to re-entry into society. Last semester, a number of other events were also sponsored or co-sponsored as part of the campus theme, including various productions by Sue Massek, the Opening Theme Conference, and speakers and fundraisers for the “Special Love” summer camp. Additionally, cleanup projects were conducted at Ferrum Mountain Creek and Storey Creek, speakers discussed issues faced by local food banks and blood marrow donor programs, and presentations highlighted the Enduring Warrior Project and the Peace Corps.

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