Center for Civic Engagement Strategic Plan 2021–2024
Center for Civic Engagement Strategic Plan 2021–2024
Cynthia Lynch Executive Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics
Sara B. Moore Associate Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow for Civic Engagement
Acknowledgements This strategic plan reflects the contributions of many university and community partners, including the Salem State University Civic Engagement Committee, the Center for Civic Engagement Community Partner Advisory Board, and the Center for Civic Engagement staff. We would also like to thank Salem State University’s leadership for their support during the strategic planning process, including President John D. Keenan, Provost David J. Silva, and Vice Provost Tad Baker.
Civic Engagement at Salem State Salem State University is a comprehensive master’s-level public institution that primarily serves the North Shore region of the Boston Metropolitan Area. Salem State is the second largest state university in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has one of the most diverse campus communities in the region. Many Salem State students belong to historically underserved communities, including first-generation students, low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, veterans, and older adults. Founded as Salem Normal School in 1854 and initially created to train public school teachers, Salem State has a long history of community engagement. Throughout its 167-year history, students, faculty, and staff have partnered with communities in all 34 cities and towns in Essex County as well as many regional and statewide organizations. Salem State currently offers 32 undergraduate and graduate programs across six colleges and schools, and all academic departments engage faculty, students, and community partners in an array of community-engaged experiences. Community and public engagement are at the heart of Salem State’s mission to “prepare a diverse community of learners to contribute responsibly and creatively to a global society.” Salem State continues to serve as a resource to advance the region’s cultural, social, and economic development and remains a thought leader in key sectors including education, science, environmental sustainability, health care, business, arts and humanities, and social sciences. Central to these efforts is a commitment to place, education access, diversity and inclusion, academic excellence, and student success. Whether conducting interdisciplinary research on how climate change is affecting the North Atlantic ocean and seashore, collaborating with local municipalities to develop main street revitalization efforts, or exploring the social, cultural, and political history of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem State brings intellectual and human capital to bear on local issues with national and global implications and engages students by encouraging them to think globally and act locally.
Community and public engagement are embedded in the very fabric, culture, and history of Salem State. They frame the institution’s identity and shape how it educates its students and engages the wider community. Salem State’s commitment to mutually beneficial, reciprocal, and equitable community partnerships is reflected in the institution having received the prestigious Carnegie Community Engagement Classification in 2020. Indicating a significant institutional commitment to community and civic engagement, Salem State is among only 359 institutions throughout the United States and 26 institutions in Massachusetts with this designation.
Center for Civic Engagement Founded in 2015, the Center for Civic Engagement is the nexus of community-based initiatives, civic learning, and public engagement at Salem State University. The Center defines communities to include geographic, identity, and issue-based communities among others. The Center embraces Salem State’s institutional values of equity, partnership, and collaboration by promoting equitable and sustainable relationships and engaging campus and community members and organizations to examine and address the important social, political, economic, and environmental issues of our time. The Center’s programming provides opportunities for civic learning, political engagement, and advocacy that are consistent with the mission of public higher education and strengthens students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members as agents of change. As an integral member of a wider community that supports student learning, faculty and staff engagement, and meaningful social, political, and economic change, the Center encourages civic learning, democratic participation, and social responsibility. The Center’s ongoing activities include civic learning opportunities such as the new civic engagement minor and the Civic Fellowship Program; signature advocacy programs such as Advocacy Day and course-embedded advocacy workshops; political engagement efforts including Your Voice, Your Vote election programming and the inception of the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics and Civic Engagement; and communitybased initiatives built upon a critically-engaged civic learning framework and draws on community-engaged research approaches.
community and public engagement requires a critical understanding of the social issues apparent in every discipline and area of life and equitably designed actions that benefit all members of a community. To that end, the Center for Civic Engagement has developed a visionary three-year strategic plan that focuses on deeper and more meaningful community and public engagement. With a particular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the plan is designed to foster a campus-wide civic ethos and encourage meaningful engagement around the social, political, economic, and environmental issues our communities are facing. The plan also serves as a roadmap that can help Salem State remain accountable to its students, faculty, staff, and community partners after its Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. The strategic plan focuses on four areas, including student learning and leadership, faculty and staff development and support, public engagement and community partnerships, and center operations and effectiveness. Each area includes two primary goals along with specific strategies the Center can use to achieve those goals. Each strategy includes an array of short-term, medium-term, and long-term tactics.
Throughout higher education, traditional civic engagement efforts often center on service-learning and community service. While those activities have supported various communities over time, they reflect a limited understanding of the civic mission of public higher education. The Center for Civic Engagement believes that meaningful civic engagement is more than visiting a community and helping to meet the needs of its members. Rather, meaningful
The Center for Civic Engagement is an integral member of a wider community that supports student learning, faculty and staff engagement, and meaningful social, political, and economic change by encouraging civic learning, democratic participation, and social responsibility.
The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) is the nexus of community-based initiatives, civic learning, and public engagement at Salem State University. The CCE defines communities to include geographic, identity, and issue-based communities among others. We embrace Salem State’s institutional values of equity, partnership, and collaboration by promoting equitable and sustainable relationships and engaging campus and community members and organizations to examine and address the important social, political, economic, and environmental issues of our time. The center’s programming provides opportunities for civic learning, political engagement, and advocacy that are consistent with the mission of public higher education and strengthens students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members as agents of change.
Student Learning and Leadership From First Year Day of Service to curricular civic engagement and student clubs and organizations, Salem State students consistently demonstrate their commitment to civic learning, community engagement, and leadership. The Center for Civic Engagement recognizes students’ passion for exploring social, political, economic, and environmental issues and strives to build on their experiences and interests to facilitate meaningful opportunities for community engagement. The Center will continue to work with academic departments and community partners to further develop students’ leadership skills and is committed to ensuring curricular and co-curricular civic engagement that is meaningful, equitable, and community-driven.
Strengthen the university’s capacity to foster students’ leadership skills for the purpose of social change. Strategies and Tactics1 Encourage all departments to include a public problem-solving element in their degree programs and consider using badges or seals to indicate students’ civic learning and engagement. • Meet with department chairpersons to learn about public engagement opportunities for students in each of their academic programs, and work with faculty to publicize and promote their public problem-solving scholarly and teaching activities. (S) • Provide support to departments that propose curriculum changes related to public engagement. (M) • Work with governance to develop a badge or seal to indicate meaningful curricular or co-curricular civic engagement. (M) • Identify a civic engagement management system to track and build on students’ civic learning and engagement opportunities. (S)
Structure, coordinate, and partially fund public engagement internships. • Work with other campus offices and departments to create and maintain an ongoing database of public engagement internship opportunities and work with Career Services to advertise internship listings. (S) • Work with Career Services and specific academic departments to host workshops on topics like applying and preparing for internships. (S) • Work with the Berry Institute of Politics to partially fund public engagement internships. (S)
1 Short-term (S): AY 2021-2022; medium-term (M): AY 2022-2023; and long-term (L) tactics: AY 2023-2024.
Collaborate with departments and offices across campus as well as student organizations and clubs to enhance civic leadership programs and opportunities for students. • Collaborate with the Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, and Diversity (LEAD) Office and/ or student clubs and organizations to facilitate at least one significant project or program each semester. (M) • Establish a defined civic leadership curriculum for student leaders. (M) • Create a civic leadership mentoring program between Salem State students and regional high school students. (L)
Increase enrollment in the civic engagement minor. • Develop marketing materials that include student testimonials to share via the Salem State website, admissions events, and elsewhere. (S) • Work with Undergraduate Admissions, Student Life, and First Year Experience to advertise the civic engagement minor to new and prospective students. (M) • Share information about the civic engagement minor with regional high schools and community colleges and consider creating seamless transfer agreements for community college students. (L)
Work closely with campus departments and offices such as Career Services to support students who want to leverage their civic engagement experience to pursue employment and/or graduate school. • Work with Career Services to host workshops for students who plan to pursue public engagement careers and participate in career fairs. (S) • Work with Career Services to facilitate formal networking opportunities with community partners to explore potential career paths and/or positions. (S) • Administer CliftonStrengths for publicly engaged students to help them reflect, articulate, and leverage their strengths, successes, and values. (M)
Build upon student readiness by engaging minoritized students’ knowledge, skills, and experiences to ensure anti-racist curricular and co-curricular civic engagement. Strategies and Tactics Review existing Center for Civic Engagement policies and programs to ensure minoritized students’ identities and assets are valued, their needs are met, and their interests are engaged. • Conduct a bi-annual survey of high school students to understand their civic engagement needs and interests. (L) • Develop a set of anti-racist policies and procedures based on critically-engaged civic learning and Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) grant-funded projects. (M) • Create a system and incentives for soliciting feedback from students via surveys or focus groups about their civic engagement experiences at Salem State. (M)
Provide high quality mentorship, support, and resources to minoritized students, particularly those who participate in civic engagement in their own communities. • Provide professional development opportunities to faculty that focus on preparing students for civic engagement in minoritized communities. (S) • Work with the Office of Inclusive Excellence to create and fund a peer-to-peer mentoring program for minoritized students who are interested in civic engagement, both within and beyond their own communities. (M)
Work with departments and offices such as First Year Experience and Residence Life to establish and facilitate civic engagement living-learning communities focused on equity, systems-level change, and social justice. • Develop, implement, and facilitate at least one living-learning community per year focused on equity, systems-level change, and social justice. (M)
Meaningfully engage diverse students to create and facilitate anti-racist civic engagement professional development activities for faculty and staff. • Create and fund a student advisory board that provides technical assistance and support to faculty who are developing civic engagement projects in minoritized communities. (L)
Faculty and Staff Development and Support Given Salem State’s history as a normal school and its embeddedness in the North Shore region, it is unsurprising that many of its faculty and staff are deeply committed to community-engaged teaching and research. Many faculty and staff have developed long-term partnerships with local community organizations and often engage students in those relationships. With an increased focus on communitybased participatory research and critically-engaged civic learning, the Center for Civic Engagement will support faculty and staff as they continue to build and sustain equitable community partnerships.
Strengthen faculty and staff capacity to collaborate with community partners to address local, regional, national, and global public problems.
Strategies and Tactics Continue to transition faculty and staff away from the language of service-learning and toward a more equitable way of speaking about community-campus partnerships (e.g. critically-engaged civic learning, community-engaged research, etc.). • Provide diverse professional development opportunities focused on critically-engaged civic learning and community-engaged teaching and research (e.g. one-day workshops, year-long faculty learning communities, etc.). (S) • Create opportunities to highlight faculty and staff who are engaged in critically-engaged civic learning and community-engaged teaching and research (e.g. Drumroll articles, newsletter articles, etc.). (S)
Increase civic engagement resources such as transportation and project funding for faculty and staff by engaging in more intentional fundraising. •
Work the President’s Executive Council to identify a plan for supporting transportation associated with curricular and co-curricular civic engagement activities. (M)
• Partner with Institutional Advancement and individual faculty to crowdfund for specific civic engagement projects. (L) • Work with Institutional Advancement to create a database or resource page for faculty seeking financial support for community-engaged teaching and research. (L) • Sustain and advertise community-based participatory research scholarship support grants from the Center for Research and Creative Activities. (S)
Identify and establish diverse professional development opportunities focused on topics like virtual civic engagement, setting realistic expectations for civic engagement, and co-creating knowledge with community partners. • Create a process for soliciting feedback from faculty and staff about the topics and issues they are interested in exploring regarding public engagement. (S) • Provide diverse professional development opportunities focused on the issues identified by faculty and staff and prioritized by Center for Civic Engagement staff (e.g. one-day workshops, year-long faculty learning communities, etc.). (M) • Provide training and support for faculty who participate in public engagement work such as preparing and presenting legislative testimony, writing op-eds, working on political campaigns, contributing to policy development, and engaging in advocacy and activism. (M)
Provide mentorship, support, and resources to faculty and staff who are engaged in equitable and anti-racist public engagement, public scholarship, and communityengaged teaching and research. Strategies and Tactics Support faculty in prioritizing a campus-wide civic ethos that encourages students to be informed, engaged, and responsible community members who can contribute to the public good. • Continue to promote civic engagement to build connections between Salem State’s liberal arts and sciences and professional programs. (S) • Participate in university-wide strategic planning efforts to ensure civic engagement and a civic ethos remains a core element of the university’s strategic plan. (M)
Help strengthen the relationship between offices that support public engagement, public scholarship, and community-engaged teaching and scholarship, such as Academic Affairs and Student Life. • Identify and implement mechanisms for interoffice communication with a focus on civic engagement (e.g. a weekly newsletter, Drumroll categories, etc.). (M)
Provide stipends and/or other incentives for faculty and staff who facilitate and/or participate in anti-racist civic engagement work. • Identify funding sources to provide stipends and/or other incentives for faculty and staff who facilitate and/or participate in anti-racist civic engagement work. (M)
Use existing contractual reward systems to prepare publicly-engaged faculty for reappointment, tenure, promotion, and post-tenure review, and to prepare academic leaders for evaluating publicly-engaged faculty. • Hold semi-annual professional development workshops to help faculty identify and articulate their civic identities and highlight their civic engagement and publicly-engaged teaching and research in their reappointment, tenure, promotion, and post-tenure review materials. (M)
Public Engagement and Community Partnerships Salem State lies in the heart of a small but diverse city with a thriving tourism industry, a vibrant arts scene, and many opportunities for entrepreneurship and political leadership. The Center for Civic Engagement is dedicated to supporting teaching, scholarship, and service that builds on community assets and addresses community concerns with the goal of creating a more equitable community and region. The Center will continue to work with the Community Partner Advisory Board and other community organizations to identify public issues that can be addressed in part through meaningful civic participation.
Enhance the Center for Civic Engagements’ footprint in the North Shore by working with community partners to identify public problems that can be addressed through face-to-face and virtual civic participation. Strategies and Tactics Establish a meaningful and affordable off-campus presence in Salem to better meet the goal of accessibility to the Salem and North Shore community. • Work with community partners with flexible space to identify space and costs associated with maintaining a meaningful presence in downtown Salem. (L)
Work with the Center’s Community Partner Advisory Board to establish a mechanism for collecting information about our community partners, including the public problems they address and the strategies they use to address those problems. • Develop a system and/or tool for collecting and updating information about Salem State’s community partners. (S)
In accordance with the 2018 Massachusetts Policy S2631: An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement, build stronger relationships with regional high schools to develop and sustain a civic ethos both on campus and among young people in the community. • Facilitate summer civic leadership programs for high school juniors and seniors. (M) • Create a civic leadership mentoring program between Salem State students and regional high school students (see Goal #1). (L) • Continue to collect longitudinal data to ensure faculty are student-ready with regards to high school students’ civic-mindedness. (L)
Encourage community partners to contact the Center for help identifying potential campus partners to address public issues and develop a system for responding to such requests. • Increase opportunities for community partners, faculty, and staff to network and participate in meaningful discussions about community issues. (S) • Partner with Marketing and Creative Services to create forms on the Salem State website to collect submissions. (M)
Ensure that all community-campus partnerships are equitable, sustainable, and intentionally anti-racist.
Strategies and Tactics Work closely with community and campus partners to collectively identify and understand the causes and consequences of systemic racism. • Include racial equity as an ongoing agenda item for all Community Partner Advisory Board meetings. (S) • Establish, build, and sustain relationships with Salem’s No Place for Hate Committee and the Salem Race Equity Task Force to identify opportunities for collaboration and collective problem-solving. (S)
Build stronger relationships with K-12 educators and administrators in the North Shore region and support their efforts to develop and foster a civic and anti-racist ethos in their school communities. • Partner with Salem Public Schools and other regional school systems to develop programs that partner K-12 students with Salem State students on various civic engagement projects and efforts. (L) • Work with the School of Education to identify opportunities to infuse civic engagement into education students’ teaching and community education experiences (e.g. practicums). (M) • Develop and maintain a system for connecting regional K-12 educators with Salem State faculty and staff beyond the School of Education for civic engagement efforts, professional development, and other opportunities. (M)
Ensure all community-campus partnerships are intentionally designed to help community partners meet the mission of their organization. • Encourage and support faculty and staff who participate in civic engagement and community-engaged teaching and research to clearly articulate the mission of the organization they are working with and how their partnership can help that organization more effectively meet its mission. (M) • Provide both professional development and social opportunities for community and campus partners to learn more about one another’s roles, capacities, and assets so that civic engagement projects are both asset-based and community-driven. (M) 11
Center Operations and Effectiveness Now in its seventh year, the Center for Civic Engagement continues to grow and change to meet the needs and interests of students, faculty, staff, and community partners. The Center has helped to make Salem State a regional leader in civic engagement and a destination for students who are interested in civic learning and leadership. Through regional professional development opportunities, partnerships with other local colleges and universities, and more clearly defined assessment strategies, the Center will continue to establish Salem State as a trailblazer in civic education on the North Shore and in the Commonwealth.
Demonstrate regional leadership in equitable public engagement through professional development activities and partnerships with regional colleges and universities. Strategies and Tactics Consider changing the name of the Center for Civic Engagement to reflect its broader vision, mission, and goals. • Work with the Civic Engagement Committee, Community Partner Advisory Board, and other stakeholders to explore the possibility of changing the name of the Center for Civic Engagement. (L) • Transition the Center’s political engagement activities to the Berry Institute of Politics and Civic Engagement to ensure the Institute’s success as a standalone entity. (S)
Work with higher education and community partners to further develop the North of Boston Civic Engagement Consortium, a collection of colleges, universities, and community-based organizations who are working to develop a civic engagement agenda for the region. • Continue to work with North of Boston Civic Engagement Consortium stakeholders to establish and evaluate a civic engagement agenda for the North Shore region. (L) • Create a regional approach to maintain accountability for institutions who have received Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. (L)
Establish regional professional development opportunities for higher education faculty and staff. • Build on established summer professional development activities to create a week-long institute that is open to regional partners and is focused on public engagement and community-engaged teaching and research. (M) • Create more virtual professional development opportunities that can reach a wider audience. (S) • Create faculty learning communities focused on community-engaged teaching and/or research that include faculty from diverse regional colleges and universities. (L)
Create and institutionalize on-campus and virtual opportunities to highlight student, faculty, and staff public engagement.
• Work with offices and departments across campus to develop and/or build on opportunities to highlight student, faculty, and staff public engagement. (S)
Identify and establish deeper and more clearly defined assessment strategies to measure the effectiveness of the Center’s activities and ensure Center operations are consistent with the university’s mission, vision, and values. Strategies and Tactics Work with campus and community stakeholders to review data on community-campus partnerships, civic engagement, and community-engaged teaching and research activities and outcomes. • Collaborate with the Civic Engagement Committee and Community Partner Advisory Board to analyze and interpret outcome data and engage in subsequent action planning. (L)
Identify and implement best practices for assessing the effectiveness of equitable, anti-racist civic engagement. • Identify literature on evidence-based best practices for assessing the effectiveness of equitable, anti-racist civic engagement for students, faculty, staff, and community partners. (S) • Work with the Office of Inclusive Excellence to develop tools for assessing anti-racist outcomes. (L)
Use assessment outcomes to address and mitigate barriers to civic engagement (e.g. knowledge, time, resources, etc.) for faculty, staff, and students. • Convene and facilitate an annual assessment and strategic planning retreat that includes various campus stakeholders to review data on civic engagement activities, processes, and outcomes. (M)
Visit us online at salemstate.edu/civicengagement. View public CCE resources at salemstate.edu/cce-canvas. Connect with us via social media @SalemStateCCE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.