Welcome to CACSL Conference 2016

CACSL Conference 2016: Impact for Sustainability

May 25 to 27, 2016
Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta

Mount Royal University (MRU) is pleased to host of the 2016 national conference for Community Service Learning (CSL) and Community Engagement (CE). Partners for the conference include: Canadian Alliance for Community Service Learning (CACSL), Volunteer Alberta, Volunteer Canada, the Volunteer Centre Network, The Institute for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Institute for Community Prosperity. Victoria Calvert, a business professor and the CSL coordinator for MRU is serving as the Conference Chair.

The conference is being structured to facilitate discussions, discovery, and networking between and within the constituent groups involved with administering, teaching, or conducting research regarding CSL and CE. Conference speakers, workshops, posters, and presentations will be presented by the following potential stakeholders:

  • Faculty designing and teaching academic courses with CSL projects,
  • Community partners working with post-secondary institutions either through coursework, research projects, or volunteer activities,
  • Administrators based in post-secondary institutions with responsibility for CSL or CE liaison, training, tracking, and mentoring,
  • Faculty or community partners conducting research pertaining to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, or impact assessment upon community partners, faculty, and institutions,
  • Policy makers involved with CE.

The conference will be offered over three days, with the first day dedicated to two streams of activities for which conference attendees may pre-register. The two streams on the first day will be dedicated to the Volunteer Centre Network (VCN) and the TransCanada Forum for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) which will be dedicated to sharing and developing teaching and learning research about CSL. The SoTL session will feature concurrent sessions presenting active or completed SoTL projects as well as interactive workshop sessions on theory and methodology, innovative approaches to research and pedagogy, and introductory workshops suitable for emerging scholars. The VCN stream will have a closed morning session. In the afternoon a three hour session will focus upon community-academic partnerships.

Conference tracks for concurrent sessions on May 26 and 27 will be structured to address the full spectrum of topics. One ongoing theme throughout the conference will be provided through sequential workshops dedicated to the discussion of the partnership relationships between community organizations and academic institutions.

Conference tracks for concurrent sessions on May 26 and 27 will be structured to reach a wide audience:

  1. Impacts of Community Engagement: This track would feature individual presentations by organizations belonging to the CFICE research group, as well as individuals or organizations gathering qualitative or quantitative evidence of impact upon community organizations or academic institutions.
  2. Scholarship of Teaching Learning (SoTL): This tract would attract those who are facilitating and supporting investigation leading to deeper understanding of, and sustained improvement in teaching and student learning.
  3. Posters: We are seeking insight as to what is happening in CSL and CE across Canada, and are encouraging brief summaries by community partners, researchers, students, or other stakeholders who would like to share their experiences, research proposal, request for partnership, or ideas. The posters will be printed, and a two hour session is organized to encourage dialogue.
  4. Community Engagement Centers: We are interested in the evolving activities, training, recognition processes, and documentation conducted at post-secondary institutions across Canada. We anticipate allocating sessions to facilitate the sharing of practices by CEC, and seek proposals or ideas to share benchmarking practices in this track.
  5. Innovative CSL or CE practices: This track features innovative curriculum or programs for community based student engagement. We hope to feature unique courses or co-curricular projects from across Canada.
  6. Global Service Learning (GSL): There has been much debate regarding the role of GSL in recent years, including queries pertaining to ethical issues, cultural humility, attitudinal approaches (‘with’ rather than ‘for’), and training. Institutions offering CSL and CE international field schools, as well as CSL projects in isolated communities will be asked to participate to share innovative practices.
  7. Sustainability: This stream pertains to innovative approaches that contribute to the sustainability of the environment, community organizations, or communities such as First Nations. Proposals relating to innovative practices and models for social entrepreneurship would also be pertinent for this track.
  8. Boundary spanning partnerships: proposals regarding relationships that span multiple organizations, areas, or activities, or that have an innovative structure would be submitted in this track.

We propose a variety of exchanges including ‘talking circles’ and ‘sharing walks’. ‘Talking circles’ are spontaneous and recognize the desire for deeper conversations to further explore a topic. Boards will be set up where attendees may write a topic they would like to discuss, with a potential time noted. ‘Sharing walks’ will be constructed through two venues

Through their active involvement in the conference participants should:

  • Deepen their understanding of how CSL and CE efforts are transforming people, communities, institutions, and systems.
  • Reflect on the nature of their community-campus partnerships.
  • Achieve their most important objective in coming to the conference, either by meeting with a specific presenter, or through exposure to those pursuing a similar agenda.
  • Potentially publish a paper or find a research or project partner.
  • Gain insight into varied CSL curriculum, and gather ideas for their courses.
  • Leave the conference energized and motivated!

As part of the conference MRU proposes to publish two collections: the first will be Canadian CSL Student Vignettes, and the second will be a research manuscript.

Canadian Student’s CSL Vignettes: We are proposing a soft-cover publication that will also be available digitally through the Canadian CACSL website with fifty projects from Canadian colleges and universities. Each student CSL project would entail a description of their project, a statement of what they learned and how the project impacted them personally, and a statement of impact from their community partner. A picture of the student and their community partners, as well as a chart of the data from their project would be encouraged. The book, to be edited by Victoria Calvert and Glenn Ruhl will be presented to attendees at the conference, and will be shipped to the student authors.

Impact for Sustainability: CSL in Canada will be a national, peer-reviewed book, with an editorial board of faculty from academic disciplines in Canadian post-secondary institutions as well as researchers from community organizations. Cynthia Gallop will be senior editor; Victoria Calvert will serve as second editor. We will seek a broad range of papers pertaining to campus-community partnerships and CSL research and practice. Papers illustrating curriculum development and those measuring the impact upon students, community partners, and faculty, students and community partners that extend the knowledge base and strengthen practitioners’ work are welcomed. Contributing authors will represent a wide range of academic disciplines, professions, and institutions.

The Conference
We will be featuring the produce from small sustainable organic farms in southern Alberta in the meals offered during the conference. The Institute for Sustainability will host a panel regarding food citizenship during the lunch or dinner on May 25; two local growers, a local distributor, and a restaurant owner who supports the slow food movement philosophy will discuss their offerings and their strategy for sustainability. On the third day of the conference attendees will be taken by bus to a local sustainable organic farmer, whose food was featured in the conference, a local market, a distributorship for local organic fair practice food distribution, and finally, to a local restaurant that features local organic food for dinner. The dinner will open to the public, and we anticipate the events will increase both awareness and interest in the local sustainable food movement.

We look forward to seeing you in May 2016.

Victoria Calvert
Conference Chair
Professor, Bissett School of Business
Mount Royal University
403 440 7015