What is the Community Engagement Project?
The mission statement of CU is that we are a Christian University making leaders for the transformation of society. Transforming society often means thinking about how to solve problems. Only people with a certain kind of character tend to be those who are inclined to want to solve problems, especially those sorts of problems that prevent humans from flourishing. This project is meant to engage you in the act of problem solving by reflecting on organizations, institutions, or groups of people that you are familiar with to help them fill in a gap, lack, or deficiency (or more than one) in their ability to fulfill their mission. Think of this project as something like a scenario in which you take on the role of a consultant that is called upon to helped a company analyze and evaluate the ways in which they are missing the mark on achieving their mission. You will be tasked with creating a proposal for how they might deal with these deficiencies. This proposal itself will be your project. You will follow it up with a reflection paper.
Along the way, you will need to research the population that is being served (or missed) by the organization or group you’re working with. This research will focus on a couple of questions:
What are the needs of this population that your organization hopes to meet?
What are the best ways of meeting those needs?
What suggestions can you make based on your research to help the organization be more effective and better achieve their mission? This is the major question – your suggestion amounts to your “proposal”.
You Project will be accomplished in steps, only the Final form of which will be submitted and graded. Each piece that you submit prior to this will be an opportunity for feedback to best ensure your success.
A Basic Map of What You Will Do
- Contact and connect with a Group or Organization of your choosing with whom you want to work (think of places of employment, where you already volunteer, a team you’re on, a student group you’re a part of, a church or other religious organization, a non-profit you’re connected to, etc.
o NOTE: since you’re enrolled in a nursing program, if you have connections to a professional medial organization, group, or non-profit, you might leverage this assignment to reflect on past or current work with this group.
- Identify the mission of the Organization or Group. Identify the target audience they want to serve and the methods they employ to do so
- Identify a gap or Deficiency in how the Group or Organization accomplishes its mission
- Through conversations, research, interviews, and data collection, craft a proposal for how to
overcome the gap or deficiency
- Submit a copy of your written Proposal (5 or less pages) to your contact person at the Group or
Organization, and to your Instructor on Blackboard
o Whether or not you receive feedback from your contact person at the group or organization is not relevant. They may or may not have time to give you an evaluation. But your instructor will.
- Craft a Reflection Paper that engages with the course content to describe your experiences with this project according to the goals of the course (8-12 written pages)
Connecting the Project with the Course Content of REL 401
The rest of this document is meant to help you understand the connections between the Community Engagement Project and the course content of REL401 – Faith for Life.
Module I – Since a major focus in module 1 of the course is reflection on our character, especially on the virtue of humility and how that applies to Service, as you imagine your project, you are engaging in an act of Service, characterized by humility. That is, you are thinking about how to address the needs of others.
As you reflect on this project, the best way to begin would be to think about some organization, group, institution, team, etc. that you are already connected with and consider whether or not you have noticed a problem that might need to solved in that context? The goal here is to get you working on an issue in close connection to a group and set of issues that you’re already familiar with, and presumably, since you are (or have been) involved with this group, you already care about their mission. This might be a student club or team that has a particular mission for serving others in some way. This might be an organization with whom you participated in a Practicum or Internship. This might be a place where you’ve volunteered from quite some time, like a non-profit or religious organization. In other words, don’t overburden yourself here by thinking that you need to come up with a place to serve. The Community Engagement Project is not like that. THIS IS NOT VOLUNTEER WORK. Rather, you need to get involved working on a problem with some group or organization that you already know about.
As you engage in this consideration of who you might work with in order to offer help, you are already practicing the beginnings of Service. And since Service is always an expression of humility, you are also connecting your work and reflection with one of the first major themes of the course. As we think here about models or exemplars of humility, how might you find inspiration from some of the thinkers we engage or some of the people they write about?
Due by the end of Week 4 of the course is a 1 page Description of your Project Proposal. That document should include a few lines about each question below:
- What is the organization group you’re hoping to work with?
- What is the mission or that organization? Who are they trying to serve?
- What gap or deficiency do you hope to address with your proposal?
- What is your proposal?
- How is humility a key to Service in the context of this project?
Module 2 – As we turn to focus on the doctrine of vocation and the concept of “calling” here, we are quickly pressed to recognize that we are placed in various roles and relationships in life through which
God chooses to care for others. In this way, our work within each of our multiple callings becomes a form of Service behind which God himself is at work.
Due during Week 5 of the course is 1 page Reflection on how your Project connects with the theme of Service and Calling in light of the doctrine of vocation. You should include a few lines about each question below.
- How is your particular role in creating a Proposal a kind of calling? (You might reflect on this in two ways: 1) you are a student and doing this work is a form of fulfilling your calling as a student to prepare yourself for a career and service to humanity, and/or 2) think about your particular role in assisting the organization or group – what kind of service are you doing and what does that tell you about your “calling” in this situation?
- How is God at work through your calling in this situation to serve both the organization or group you’re working with, as well as the population that groups aims to serve in its mission?
- Reflect on these 2 passages from the New Testament:
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
1 Peter 5.1-5
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Modules 3 & 4
During the last half of the course, you should be completing research on you Project and formulating a proposal to address the problem, gap, or deficiency that you discussed in the first report submitted during Module 1. For instructions on designing the Final Paper, see the document titled “Community Engagement Reflection Paper.” There you will be asked to reflect on this project in light of the readings in Module 3, in addition to those of Modules 1 & 2. You will also be directed to submit a copy of the Proposal as well as describe the context/circumstances in which it arose. Lastly, you will be given 1 additional reading about the formative power of Service Learning to help you think about the purpose of this project within the larger purview of Concordia University’s mission.